La Marmotte is a 174km cycle sportive with 5000m of climbing over 4 of the classic climbs used in the Tour de France - the Glandon, Telegraph, Galibier and Alpe D'Huez. This year, on 22 July, stage 19 will go over the last three if you want to get an idea what they are like. Alternatively ask Sue, Ellie or Phil who have all ridden the race.
Last year I rode the race for the first time with the aim of just getting round having never attempted such a challenge. This year I started training on the 2nd January with the aim of achieving the gold standard time for my age group building on all I had learnt last year. For those of you who are not regulars on the formal club bike training rides such as the Double Whiteway and Stanway sessions these or similar rides formed a key part of my weekly schedule. The Whiteway sessions building to my target race effort level and the hills to 10 reps which is roughly the distance of each of the climbs.
On top of those sessions were Collin's Sunday rides early on but building to well over a 100 miles by the end. I topped off my training with a couple of weeks climbing practice in the Alps followed by a taper week.
The final result was that I had a near perfect race in which I felt strong all the way round and, with the exception of the Galibier descent back to the foot of Alpe D'Huez where a fierce head wind cost me about 3 to 4 minutes, I pulled out time against my planned schedule all the rest of the way round ending up 18 minutes inside the gold standard time. Apart from that head wind the weather was perfect. Clear blue sky but with a top temperature of only 24 degrees. I started out with a short sleeved jersey and arm warmers which I rolled down on the climbs and with the direct heat from the sun they were enough to cope with the descents without the need for a jacket. It was a far cry from the 43 degrees we had last year up the final climb of Alpe D'Huez.
Even if you do not feel like tackling La Marmotte I can thoroughly recommend a cycling holiday in a place like Bourg D'Oisans as not only can you tackle the famous Tour de France climbs but there are lots of others that are equally challenging and more spectacular from a scenic point of view.