Riding Alpe D'Huez

by farrell   April 30, 2013  

I'm assuming that a few people on here will have ridden this climb so I was wondering if there was anything comparable over here, preferably up in the North-West/Peaks sort of area.

I am aware that there won't be anything that matches it in terms of height/hairpins but are there any climbs you could say "It's like doing the Wizard in Alderley Edge 15 times" or Its like doing Lonh Hill 10 times"?

I'm just trying to get a picture in my head about it.

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Great Dun Fell is the nearest thing you will find around the NW. Traffic-free and smooth tarmac. Glorious.

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posted by YorkshireMike [73 posts]
30th April 2013 - 13:45

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3 words
IT WILL HURT! Devil

I tried practising in s Wales taking in the rhigos and bwlch but nothing on these shores will prepare you for your first alpine climb , especially if it's the alpe!

posted by chiv30 [870 posts]
30th April 2013 - 13:49

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chiv30 wrote:
3 words
IT WILL HURT! Devil

I tried practising in s Wales taking in the rhigos and bwlch but nothing on these shores will prepare you for your first alpine climb , especially if it's the alpe!

Great Dun is about half of Alpe D'Huez I think and a similar incline. Obviously you won't be able to replicate altitude though!

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posted by YorkshireMike [73 posts]
30th April 2013 - 13:53

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If you do the final one mile of climbing up Winter Hill, from Rivington over towards Belmont direction, 8 times, you'll have done Alpe d'Huez climb distance [about 8 miles] and roughly half the ascent [about 2,500ft].

Or, another way, do it 16 times, and you'll have done the right ascent, but twice the distance.

Of course, the one mile descent/recovery is way more generous than a hairpin breather!

Basically: it's probably impossible to replicate the AdH intensity in the UK. But doing this sort of thing I'm sure helped me with my Marmotte ride. Put 16 stones in your pocket and throw one out each time you get to the top. You will lose count after a while!

posted by putmebackonmybike [12 posts]
30th April 2013 - 14:09

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'it's probably impossible to replicate the AdH intensity in the UK'

it's very easy to replicate the intensity and the effort required. Just not the hill itself....

posted by andyp [893 posts]
30th April 2013 - 15:53

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YorkshireMike wrote:
chiv30 wrote:
3 words
IT WILL HURT! Devil

I tried practising in s Wales taking in the rhigos and bwlch but nothing on these shores will prepare you for your first alpine climb , especially if it's the alpe!

Great Dun is about half of Alpe D'Huez I think and a similar incline. Obviously you won't be able to replicate altitude though!

The altitude you def can't replicate , as for being a similar incline and half the length , it may give you an idea but until you have to cycle that 16 km at an avg 7.something% gradient with the only respite being the hairpins where they almost level out I still think there is nothing on these shores that comes close.

All I can recommend to the op is take the first 2km easy as these are the steepest and it's this point you are more likely to go off too hot ,
Again IT WILL HURT !

posted by chiv30 [870 posts]
30th April 2013 - 16:25

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One other thing to note about trying to replicate the alpe, even hill repeats don't come close due to the respite on the descents Big Grin

posted by chiv30 [870 posts]
30th April 2013 - 16:28

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You don't need to replicate altitude. It's only 1400-odd metres.
You just need to be able to ride hard without letup for around an hour. A 25 would do it.

posted by andyp [893 posts]
30th April 2013 - 18:10

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andyp wrote:
You don't need to replicate altitude. It's only 1400-odd metres.
You just need to be able to ride hard without letup for around an hour. A 25 would do it.

1400 odd meters? Not sure what you are riding but it wasn't huez!

Start is roughly 850meters
Finish above huez is about 1860meters

Altitude comes into it as for riding it on a 25 not unless ur a racing snake or super fit, as for an hour to do it , the quickest amateur time I saw last year was 51 minutes and that was a 16 yr old tri-athlete , most of the avg cyclist times were around 80 mins plus

posted by chiv30 [870 posts]
30th April 2013 - 19:50

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Think AndyP was referring to a 25 mile TT.

I'm desperate to do a proper Alpine or Pyrenean climb. Hopefully this summer...

posted by bashthebox [643 posts]
30th April 2013 - 20:45

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bashthebox wrote:
Think AndyP was referring to a 25 mile TT.

I'm desperate to do a proper Alpine or Pyrenean climb. Hopefully this summer...

I'm back there this year and I'm going back for 2 reasons the tdf (again) and the cycling , all I can say is once you have cycled some of those legendary cols you will want to keep going back , it's magical

posted by chiv30 [870 posts]
30th April 2013 - 21:03

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I'm with Andy P on the intensity side of things. Make sure you can train in zone 4 four a couple of hours and you'll be fine. I did ventoux last year and did lots of hill climbing in the peak district, lake district and exmoor. All those 25%-30%+ hills hurt more than ventoux. I also did plenty of high intensity TT efforts which hurt more than climbing ventoux.

After all that training ventoux was disappointing in both the effort required (a good reflection on my training) and the entire experience (a bad reflection on my choice of mountain - ventoux is such a dull mountain!).

The Human Cyclist A blog. Try it, you might like it...

sm's picture

posted by sm [346 posts]
30th April 2013 - 21:13

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Apart from probably suffering with the heat I think you may be 'pleasantly' surprised. If you can do the steepest of our homegrown mountains, the alpe will provide a welcome change with pretty constant inclines - much easier to get into a good rhythm. Conquor the steep stuff here and the Alpe wont beat you, it's no more than a (very) long (very) hot hill climb.

posted by MacD [4 posts]
30th April 2013 - 21:47

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I can remember searching with exactly that sort of question before I first took on the Alpe - it's understandable and the answers that everyone is giving are quite honest - you just cannot find anywhere in the UK that replicates the Alpe......

but you've mentioned the Wizard climb out of Alderley Edge - okay, so having thought about it that's not a bad example - the steepest bits like the first bit of the climb out of the town and the last bit before cresting en route to the Wizard are about as steep as it gets, however, the first 1.5 miles or so are at that level (up til around hairpin 4)

the rest of the climb has a gradient steeper than the majority of the Edge climb but they are manageable if you use the outside of the hairpins to recover a bit - but you'll effectively feel like you are riding up a climb like the Edge for 60 - 90 minutes depending on fitness (plus the altitude plus the heat - it was 85 the first time I climbed)

Finally - okay, it's not an easy climb - get you're gearing right and don't worry one jot about wifli/triples etc (I had a snake like local in club jersey sprint past me with a triple) - you will probably use every available gear you have (quickly) - then it's just a case of finding a rhythm (pedal and breathing) giving in/digging in and keeping going - count the hairpins down (once you're down to 10 to go you are going to make it) and read the road grafitti (then remember how lucky we are to be involved in a sport where for nowt we can share the same sporting arenas as the professionals)

posted by Throbbobank [9 posts]
30th April 2013 - 21:56

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Throbbobank wrote:
I can remember searching with exactly that sort of question before I first took on the Alpe - it's understandable and the answers that everyone is giving are quite honest - you just cannot find anywhere in the UK that replicates the Alpe......

but you've mentioned the Wizard climb out of Alderley Edge - okay, so having thought about it that's not a bad example - the steepest bits like the first bit of the climb out of the town and the last bit before cresting en route to the Wizard are about as steep as it gets, however, the first 1.5 miles or so are at that level (up til around hairpin 4)

the rest of the climb has a gradient steeper than the majority of the Edge climb but they are manageable if you use the outside of the hairpins to recover a bit - but you'll effectively feel like you are riding up a climb like the Edge for 60 - 90 minutes depending on fitness (plus the altitude plus the heat - it was 85 the first time I climbed)

Finally - okay, it's not an easy climb - get you're gearing right and don't worry one jot about wifli/triples etc (I had a snake like local in club jersey sprint past me with a triple) - you will probably use every available gear you have (quickly) - then it's just a case of finding a rhythm (pedal and breathing) giving in/digging in and keeping going - count the hairpins down (once you're down to 10 to go you are going to make it) and read the road grafitti (then remember how lucky we are to be involved in a sport where for nowt we can share the same sporting arenas as the professionals)

Possibly the best answer on here, only thing to add would be to enjoy it and if you want to take pics do so ( or do it for a second time on another day and take your time to get those fantastic pics)

posted by chiv30 [870 posts]
30th April 2013 - 22:08

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Cheers for the replies

I've not really hit much in the way of hills this year at all and as I'm heading over to the Alpe in July I should be much further along in my training than this!

I mentioned the Wizard as I remember reading that some of the inclines were similar to the Alpe so thought I'd have a blast up it to see what they look like. I did feel relatively positive about my effort as I managed to quite comfortably pass 10 out of a group of 12 other riders on the climb and was gaining on the last two.

Given that they were reasonably fit looking with bikes and far lighter and much better than the battered old bike with panniers on I was riding I think I did quite well.

I'd love to be able to do it under an hour but that's pipe dream, but I reckon I'll make it up. It's not going to be pretty but I reckon adrenalin will kick me through a few chunks of it.

posted by farrell [1451 posts]
1st May 2013 - 15:27

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YorkshireMike wrote:
Great Dun Fell is the nearest thing you will find around the NW. Traffic-free and smooth tarmac. Glorious.

I've been to Kirby Stephen and Brough absolutely loads of times and never got round to this.

Definitely have to have a bash at it before the Alpe.

posted by farrell [1451 posts]
1st May 2013 - 15:59

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I've been to the Pyrenees twice, I did (most of) the circle of death last summer. It is about being able to keep going, the climbs don't let up. It is hard to get the sense of the climbing in the UK, there's nothing like them here, except the very north of Scotland and even then it's still lower. So a 25 mile TT as AndyP suggests is a good equivalent. I'm just starting thesufferfest intermediate training programme, as a way of packing in a bit more structured training mid week. 60-90 minutes of interval training twice a week on a turbo watching UCI races, plus rides outside too. Three sessions of intervals some weeks. I loved it in the Pyrenees, cycling in France is great fun.
I'm off to the Oisans too in August, hoping it'll not be completely baking and I get to do Alpe D'Huez and the Col du Galibier too. Hope you have fun in July

Cannondale CAAD10, Condor Terra-X and an orange Brompton.
Ride for East London Velo

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posted by zzgavin [208 posts]
1st May 2013 - 21:24

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I agree with what most of the people are saying here. You can't replicate the hills in the UK. We just don't have the mountains. The closest thing I've been on while doing the Ride Across Britain was Shapp Fell.

I was in the Pyrenees this time last year, but the climbing is very different (there's a useful article in the Cyclist coming out this month which I will paraphrase). Here we have short climbs of roughly 80-200m. The gradients are usually between 8-20% and so push you into the red zone quite quickly at times. The Alpen and Pyrenean ascents are usually flatter/more consistent. It's important that you can tap out a rhythm on the bike at just under your threshold, so NEVER attack the hills, they will get you. You don't want to burn out on km 1 when you have 14-22km to go. Sit in relax and try to enjoy the view. It's about riding within yourself.

In terms of training, doing Shapp Fell is a good idea if you are up that way. I would otherwise try to make sure you do 1,500m of climb on your rides or so. I don't remember the altitude getting to me, but it's about having the strength/power to just mill the miles out. I didn't worry about my power to weight ratio, but then again I just wanted to get up the mountains.

BIG TIP: temperatures at the bottom and top of the mountain vary massively. You will be hot as hell going up and cold as a polar bears chilly bits going down. You need to make sure you have a long-sleeve windstopper jersey, and maybe some leg-warmers and/or arm warmers. Thin full-fingered gloves can be a boon (nothing too thick, but just to give you protection from wind chill on the fast descents). It does depend a lot on the time of year, but don't underestimate this. Chances are you'll probably stop at the top to take pictures, where you'll get cold, and then get the benefit of super cool winds on descents you don't need to ever pedal on.....if you don't ride with glasses, get some.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1140 posts]
1st May 2013 - 22:44

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Went on a MTB holiday to Bourg d'Oisans back in 1996.

We used to ride up the Alpe do a bit of mountain biking on the plateau on the top and then descend back down to Bourg d'Oisans via various off road routes. We must have rode it eight or nine times in a fortnights holiday.

It's not harder than any other alpine climb. From what I remember the first couple of bends ramp up a bit and from then onwards it's a steady spin.

The gradient's like going from Glossop to the top of the Snake Pass in the Peak District.

The hardest thing to replicate climbing any of the big alpine climbs in the UK is the time that you are climbing. The gradients generally are not as severe, it's just a case of picking a gear and spinning - think turbo training with stunning scenery.

Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

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posted by badback [267 posts]
1st May 2013 - 23:18

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Never mind replicating the gradient and altitude, the toughest bit will be replicating Dutch Corner!

I'm riding the 2013 Giro d'Italia for charity! Check it out and follow my progress live at www.tourletour.com

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posted by Tour Le Tour [91 posts]
2nd May 2013 - 1:39

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