Alpe d'Huez in 4 hours and 32 minutes flat
A good time from the bottom to the summit of Alpe d’Huez, for a competitive, non-professional cyclist, is just under an hour. My time from the base to the top was 4:32. Sure that sounds slow, but first let me say that I am not a cyclist. In order to get the full Alpe d’Huez experience I decided to walk it - 13.8 km, 21 hairpin turns and an average gradient of 7.9 per cent.
Our reason for being in France was a bike race called La Marmotte, which attracts 7000 riders annually. Held in early July, it is a one day cycling event covering 174 km (108 mi). The race begins in the town of Bourg d’Oisans and features climbs over the Col du Glandon, Col du Telegraphe and Col du Galibier finishing at the top of Alpe d’Huez. If you are interested in participating, make sure you get your registration in well ahead of the deadline. The ride is extremely popular and is oversubscribed every year. You can read more about it here - http://www.sportcommunication.com/.
Fortunately, the weather on race day was perfect, and my hike didn’t really seem like it took 4+ hours. The views on the way up were spectacular and my temporary tattoo proved to be a conversation starter with the cyclists riding past me on the way up to the finish line – Allez! Allez! Allez!
I was glad to reach the top,where I briefly browsed the gift shops before finding a place in the stands to wait for my travel companions who were in the race. As you’d imagine there are plenty of souvenirs available - cycling jerseys, t-shirts, mugs - all to commemorate the ride to the top, but none for those that choose to hike!