On balance I think the whole Alpe d'Huez thing has been a real success. The positives outweigh the negatives and I've learned some valuable lessons along the way. And I am already thinking about my next goals and sharing them with the ones I love.
I am a big believer in setting goals and striving to achieve them. But don't do that at the expense of other parts of your life. If you have been inspired by me or others to do the same thing then go for it, it is a really good thing and it's good for you. Just be sure the ones you love are with you all the way and you give back more than you receive...
- A year ago - I came to Grenoble with a friend doing Etape and was overweight and unfit. I got inspired and a year later I look in the mirror at a better me. I'm fit, I'm lean and I feel good about myself.
- I did it - I stuck with it and did bloody well. Getting up the 21 switchbacks in 62 minutes is a great achievement by anyone's standards. Don't knock it till you've tried it - 8% feels pretty steep after the first 10km.
- Made new friends - WellWisher may say stuff I don't want to hear on this blog but he and his wife welcomed me into their home and showed me some warm hospitality that I only hope I can repay sometime soon.
- Raised some money - The British Heart Foundation are currently £570 better off because of the money raised so far. Ok, its not a huge amount but if everyone did this each year think how much good we could all do.
- I gave it everything - I am proud of what I achieved. On the day I didn't think of quitting or easing up once. I think the mental strength and positive attitude is the greatest aspect of the day. I now 'get' why Lance's mental strength was such an asset to him. I might not have his genetics but I know I have a little of that sense of purpose and determination.
- I became a proper cyclist - I think I have graduated from a weekend warrior to a proper cyclist. I certainly overtook more than guys up the Alpe than overtook me. I don't feel like a 'fraud' or johnny-come-lately Lance-alike anymore. I've earned my cycling stripes.
- 1.84km short - I'm sure no-one missed the fact that I did 12km not 13.84. The tourist depart and arrivee banners are 12km apart, I didn't "cheat". Of course, the thing is the TdF start is 0.8 km further back down the road, just after the new roundabout and I've already documented the finish in previous posts. In my defence, the beginning and ending stretches I missed out are relatively flat - that's why the average is 8.1% and the 12km I did averaged 8.8%. In reality I'm not that concerned about it - If you want to be picky just add 3 minutes to my time and then get out there and do it faster than me (!!)
- Training focus - Signing up for L'Etape du Tour made a huge difference to my training regime. In truth, Etape has taken over as the main goal on the bike. There has been a decided lack of focus in my training with respect to sustained 1 hour power, despite all the talk. On a positive note I have learned from this. I forgive myself given this is my first year of 'proper' bike training. Not to mention my treasured 3 kids, beautiful wife and that away-from-home-all-week job to juggle. Lets just say I have room for improvement. But I'm not ready to give a coach all my cash just yet.
- Too much science - Sometimes you need to get on your bike and ride hard. I'm sure my love of the technical details and science has masked the fact (on occasion and to myself only) that I should actually be out there giving is some welly rather than sitting here writing about it.
- Taking over your Life - I cannot stress this enough. I had got to the point where I just wanted it to be over so I could get my life back. I am so looking forward to riding my bike with my wife in the Sussex lanes rather than the Surrey hills. And doing it just for fun.
- 60 minutes is hard - Don't be mistaken. I set a really serious challenge. Have a go yourself - it may not sound so tough, but when you get there and drive up that climb knowing you have got to ride it in an hour, you'll know what I mean.
- The climb is not that hard - Having said how tough it is to beat the hour the climb itself is not that tough. Ok, it is stepp but its consistent, the road surface is velvet and anyone could complete it with the right gearing and mental attitude.
- The power of blogging - Biggest thing I've learned. Make it public, share your goals get support. As a techie I'm bound to say that, but in truth sharing my experiences has made them seem more worthwhile and has certainly kept me on the straight and narrow - you just need to look at the food diary posts to work that one out.
- Its all in the mind - Assuming you've done enough training on the day it reall is all about mentality. The gradient is largely irrelevant. I had a strategy for the day, pushing on here, holding back there and gradually winding it up. Bollocks. It is exactly like a turbo FTP session, get on, go hard, stop at the end. Anyone with a turbo can train for this climb you don't need to live in Bourg D'Oisans.
- Have some contingency - I reckoned at a stretch I could sustain 300w for an hour. In fact, using Kreuzotter I reckon I managed to actually sustain 280w on the day. And that was a 93% heart rate with all that adrenaline and tapering. Maybe it was the altitude, maybe it was the inaccuracies of the Tacx flow, but either way come here with a little extra power to spare and as light as you can manage. It could just make all the difference.
- Water bottle - OK so it was 19C on the day for me, but the water bottle was useless. It weighed a kilo and was full at the top. Drinking and riding at full pelt are not compatible, I tried twice and nearly threw the bottle away. If you look carefully at the finishing photo you can see the saliva tide around my chin. Nice.
- Church - Past the church at switchback 7 it does get a little easier. I should have pushed on here. My heart rate didn't dip hugely but I'm convinced my power output did. I wonder now if the power meter might have been useful at this point to push me along, I guess I'll never know.
- No re-run - There will be no re-run. Life is too short. Been there, done it. Plenty more goals to strive for anyway.
- Etape du Tour - Its only a week and a half away. Man its gonna be good to get it out of the way and get back on with my life. Of course I secretly hope for a silver medal (there I've said it out loud now). Gulp.
- Marathons - NYC 07, London 08. And most importantly I get to share the experience with my wife, who is the real runner in the family. Shared experience - now that is what it really should be about.
- Ironman - Who knows, maybe in a couple of years? Just need to improve my swimming. Like a lot.
- Time-trialling - No doubt about this one. Come next spring watch out for me on a dual carriageway somewhere near you. Oh I've picked out the tri-bars, faring and skinsuit already.
- Mont Ventoux all 3 ascents in a day - We're off to Bedoin in half an hour to climb the giant of provence. No doubt I'll return to climb all three ascents for my 50th (!!).