Alpe d'HuZes 2015

The event

On 4th June, I climbed by bike the legendary Alpe d'Huez. Six times in a row. People sponsored my climbs by donating money. Every euro went to the Dutch Cancer Society.

Our team raised €10'055.60! Thank you very much for all of you who have contributed.

Almost everybody will at some point in their lives be affected by cancer, from far away or close by. For me, it has come close over the past year. The mother of a friend of mine was not be able to win her fight against the disease. However, due to the hard work of researchers and doctors, incredible advances are being made towards new treatments and better quality of life for patients. The hope is that fewer and fewer people will die from cancer and that eventually a large subset cancers will become chronic diseases.

To give some meaning to a helpless situation, we (a group of friends that most of you know well) participated in the biggest fund-raising event, the The Netherlands: Alpe d’HuZes (unfortunately most of the information is only available in Dutch). It has succeeded in raising 109 million euro for the Dutch Cancer Society over the past 9 years! The idea is that the participants try to push themselves to their mental and physical limits by running or biking up the famous Alpe d'Huez climb up to six times, with people donating a fixed amount or something per climb.

The climbs

L'Alpe d'Huez is climbed regularly in the Tour de France. It was first included in the race in 1952 and has been a stage finish regularly since 1976 (see more on Wikipedia). Its main parameters are quite impressive already:

Length
13.1 km
Ascent
1073 m
Average grade:
8.19 %

Going up six times, however, puts the whole the climb into a different perspective (illustrated by an xkcd style graph):

|filename|/images/ad6_elevation.png

Download the elevation data and the plotting code.

I spent 10 hours 42 minutes on the saddle.

The event was timed so I have detailed results of the six climbs:

Climb  Start     Bend 16   Bend 9    Bend 7    Bend 3    Finish    Duration
1      04:51:02  05:16:46  05:41:51  05:48:23  06:06:30  06:20:58  01:29:56
2      07:09:38  07:28:13  07:49:09  07:55:36  08:12:15  08:25:37  01:15:59
3      09:10:05  09:27:28  09:49:25  09:55:59  10:13:03  10:26:47  01:16:42
4      11:15:51  11:35:24  11:59:37  12:06:46  12:25:05  12:40:03  01:24:12
5      13:44:19  14:05:46  14:33:06  13:18:07* 13:13:16* 15:18:35  01:34:16
6      17:08:16  17:26:22  17:48:41  17:55:42  18:14:08  18:28:42  01:20:26

The fifth climb was the most difficult, my back ached very badly and I did almost the whole climb standing because I didn't find a comfortable position on the saddle. Not too surprisingly this was the slowest too. A longer pause before the last climb helped me to recover quite a bit and the final ascent felt actually pretty good.

Summary

The Alpe d'Huez is a great climb, I recommend everyone to try it out once. I also recommend participating in such fund-raising events, there's a great ambiance and everybody is fighting together against the big mountain.

From pure biking perspective climbing the Alpe d'Huez six times is very demanding but also pretty boring. During a 10 hours bike ride you could experience much more variety if you take a "normal" route.

One day I would like to return to Alpe d'Huez to test how fast I could climb, had I need to do it only once.