Haute Route Alps 2013 Stage 2: Report

The official summary first, followed by my stage report. This one will be shorter 🙂

  • Stage 2: Megève – Val d’Isère
  • Monday 19.08.2013
  • Distance: 108 km
  • Cols & Ascents: 3
  • Total Ascent: 3400m; Total Descent: 2600m

Official info from HR:

The Col des Saisies as a first course to start the day is not too bad. Followed by 15km of hairpins that twist their way down to the village of Flumet, which are more fun than technically difficult. The route climbs via Crest-Voland – tougher than the Arcanière road – but with spectacular views of mont Blanc.

Leaving the Haute-Savoie for the Savoie, riders will then need to prepare themselves for big mountains and higher altitudes. The Cormet de Roselend reaches 1967m and the finish line in Val d’Isère is at 1840m. The climbs are about to get longer – 20km of solid uphill to reach the Cormet … On paper, day two’s 109km route doesn’t look any harder than the first day. But again, it’s deceptive and riders need to be careful to hold something back and remember: tomorrow is the Marathon stage.

From the pine forests overlooking Beaufort the long climb up to the Col du Méraillet and the Cormet de Roselend is what the Haute Route is all about: it’s a question of keeping the legs turning, keep the cadence steady. The same again on the final climb into Val d’Isère; a brand new venue for the Haute Route Alps in 2013. Riders should make the most of the flat sections on this 17km final climb from La Thuile to the finish line and not push too hard. Don’t forget to think about tomorrow!

3 climbs of the day:
• Col des Saisies, 1650m altitude, 650 metres altitude gain over 13.5km.
• Col du Cormet de Roselend, 1967m altitude, 1167 metres altitude gain over 20km.
• Ascent to Val d’Isère, 1840m altitude, 969 metres altitude gain over 19km.
My Stage Report:
Day Classification: 108
General Classification: 88

Overnight I somehow started worrying and I didn’t wake up with the best frame of mind. Not sure why, but it happens. The forecast was rain and cold, which didn’t help. So I must admit that I lined up at the start with no great expectations or excitement. And I did indeed lose some positions in the GC, but I am ok with that…

After a short neutral section, timing started at the first climb. At first I attempted to keep up with the first top group (I did get to start with the “elite group” of 75), but quickly backed off. I rode for a while with Steff, my Belgian buddy, who set a good pace (thanks Steff!), but near the top I let go of our group. From there on, I pretty much kept position I believe for the remainder of the day (probably lost 10 per climb). Today I just didn’t feel like “really pushing it,” probably wise given the 5 stages to come!

The good news:
– I loved the descents and it stayed dry throughout our ride. (I take that as a good sign–my dad looking after me as it happened on our wedding day)
– the legs felt ok. Not great to be aggressive, but good enough to set and keep my pace. It is very clear what watts I can hold and it is very simple on these day-after-day events: I will just hold my watts and let go of anyone pushing harder (there are many who are stronger!). My aim is to finish the day reasonably strong, meaning still pushing reasonable watts for me after 5 or 6 hours. I think that strategy works and I will converge towards me natural rank if I can keep it up (and not give up mentally–I must admit I asked myself today during a climb: “why am I doing this?” Tells you enough–this is a very tough event.)
– I got to meet Gerry Patterson, whose blog I have been enjoying for a while. It is nice to finally meet in person, and we kept riding near each other. Hopefully more of that in days to come, Gerry and his team!
– related: it is nice to get to know more riders and see the same faces again–“your natural group”. Most people are encouraging and supporting each other. As the days go on, that will increase as people get used to their “natural rank”.
– today’s scenery was gorgeous: the big climbs in the big mountains are fantastic, in my experience, there’s no riding elsewhere like this. (There is a reason the Tour is the biggest race: many watch it for the scenery!)

Focusing on rest, so shorter blog and I will even skip attending the race briefing! Tomorrow is a very hard stage (today was the shortest, but still 3400m, and just “hard”; Tomorrow is 165km, all timed!)

My main question is how to put enough food in my body after the ride, just before, but especially during. I don’t like bars or gels (and really dislike Gue), but I will force myself to eat more of them. Today was not easy because we were either climbing or descending fast; tomorrow there will be a few flats. I typically like to eat real food on a ride, and will also bring my sandwich with Nutella. As my buddy Robert says: “Eat a lot and often!”

This is the first time that I can eat as much as I want and still finish a ride close to empty. (Today was better, but I am worried about tomorrow: in day one, past 140km I started running on empty.)

I will start tomorrow’s day by revisiting the Gandhi quote that Shannon gave me (see a few blogs ago)…

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10 Responses to Haute Route Alps 2013 Stage 2: Report

  1. aaronwest says:

    Very well done, and you are wise to leave a little in the tank with the marathon stage coming up tomorrow.

    I have to echo the comment you got on the other post. Your postings and following the other guys (like Gerry and the VC team) have really gotten me enthused for next year. I hope you’ll continue to share during your recovery moments!

    • Thanks Aaron. Will keep up the blogs but they probably will get progressively shorter. 🙂

      Our bags still have not arrived–ETA only at 7:30! Bummer. So plan ahead to have more food and clothes in little day pack!

  2. DA says:

    Hi there Jan…think good thoughts, even though recent events have clouded up that possibility in some respects, but, also think through the opportunity you have at this stage in your life–to have a family such as yours; your position in life and all you have accomplished is so very, very much to be proud of and look forward to sharing it with family in about a week!! Sleep well!! DA

  3. Mimi says:

    Think of a woman in labor….she thinks she cannot go on one more second (remember Shannon giving birth to Max? How stalwart was she! ) At the moment of birth, all pain is forgotten and all she can think is I DID IT!!! I DID IT!!! Jan, FIND YOUR STRONG!!! Just being a participant in the Haute is stupendous! Love and Blessings, Mimi. PS: Think of St. Crispin’s (Crispian) Eve speech, you few, you happy few, you band of brothers (and sisters) of the Haute.

  4. Mertens says:

    Beste Jan , goed gedaan !!!!! neem zeker nog wat nutella op je broodjes !!!!! en doe zo voort , je bent goed op weg . t; Rita


  5. Shannon Cahill says:

    Honey- you are a person of conviction and strength in all that you do–from your professional goals to raising the kids, to turning what started as a “mid-life challenge” called cycling into a seven day experience of a lifetime. I’m happy that you are also seeing and experiencing the bigger picture of this event, like meeting fellow bloggers and making friends from around the world and taking the time to appreciate the beauty of the land. At the end of the day I believe it’s these memories you’ll cherish most, not how many watts you pushed on a particular climb.

    You’re a mentally sharp rider…you’re a physically strong rider…you love your bike. ‘Nuff said.


    Shannon Cahill (Van Mieghem) 224.522.2229

  6. Mimi says:

    Thank God for wives like Shnnon Beth Cahill VanMieghem. Mimi

  7. John K says:

    Hi Jan, just started following your blog as referenced by Gerry and Aaron. Thanks for the excellent reading. Just remember why you signed up for this when you question yourself for doing it and keep writing when you have time as this will keep the memories from fading. I used to ask myself the same question while at sea during heavy weather but now fondly remember the time. Cheers from Singapore!

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