Summer Mountain Climbing

The combination of moving house, PhD work and holiday time has meant I have been taking part in fewer races over the last month.

My last race was the Hillingdon GP, an E12 race which was tough, long and fast. I didn’t mix it up in the moves, and the peleton was pulled out after 80km (out of 100kms). I didn’t perform well in this race and was quite disappointed. I have also participated in my first XC race, I rode in the Championship race and finished mid packout of the 90 competing riders. XC riding is something I have only ever done with mates or for some winter riding – the race day was great and something I will certainly do again.

My French summer holiday has taken me through the French Alps and down to the Mediterranean coast allowing me  to get some really spectacular riding in. Before my holiday I had several days off the bike to get work and moving over with. So, I took that as a small break and I plan to cycle through training stages and build up to be fitter and stronger for some end of season races. Riding in the Alps has been perfect for the long sustained efforts I felt I needed.

L’Alpe d’Huez & Col de Sarenne

Obviously everyone has heard of the iconic climb. I rode this two years ago, and managed to beat my previous time quite substantially this time, which I am pleased about putting me nicely under the one hour mark…. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do next year!  This time I rode over the Col de Sarenne and down the talked about ‘dangerous descent’. The road surface is a little rough and it is quite technical, but overall a much better descent than the traffic heavy Alp d’Huez descent. This route also allowed me to ride a nice loop with some awesome alpine vistas. I rode up a second time the following day with my girlfriend, who made it up in around 2 hours after previously taking a couple of days….*slow clap 😉

Col du Lautaret

This climb was very long  >25 kms but a shallow gradient averaging around 5%… with some great views.

There are road markers indicating the distance to the top of the col with the average gradient marked for each km. I found the road markers very helpful, both for motivation and pacing to the top.


Climbing up to over 2600m was an awesome experience especially after riding from the valley below for over 2 hours. I approached from the southern road which with a few switchbacks over 8.6 kms at an average gradient of just under 7%. I had saved myself for this part of the climb, mainly out of fear of bonking on part of the 50 kms of climbing from my accommodation in Bourg d’Oisans. Solo riding gives a the ride a greater feel of independence but I was also well aware that if I had any issues calling for a pickup would have been a massive inconvenience and a loooong wait. 

Snow at the top made the ride feel pretty extreme, and the cool was a welcome break from the scorching temperatures in the valley floor.

Whilst in the south of France I rode a couple of climbs, the main one being the Col du Vence. This was a nice climb out of Cagnes-Sur-Mer (where I was staying) and gave great views over the Med. From strava, it looks as though this area surrounding nice Ben Swift’s and Luke Rowe’s training playground. The heat is pretty intense on the climbs of the area, with little shade offered – however, inland of the Col there is much more greenery and some amazing views.

I Looking forward to getting back into some racing for the end of the season….

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