Haute Route Alps 2022

Questions about bike hire abroad and everything light bike related. No off-topic chat please

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RyanH
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by RyanH

Anyone doing HR Alps? I decided last minute that I'd be doing it this year since a few friends are doing it as well. I am also starting off with one of my worst fitness periods I've had in a long long time so we'll see what I can muster up in the next 3 weeks.

basilic
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by basilic

Looks like a nice route, but tough.
Bring short gears for the col de la Loze, it's a silly alternance of flattish sections and 18% ramps. On the other hand it's a short TT, maybe you can get through it on the adrenaline.
Have fun!

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MrCurrieinahurry
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by MrCurrieinahurry

@RyanH are u looking for more info etc on the ride one of thr ladies of my clubs husband is connected to the company

Basso Diamante super record EPS 12
BMC slr01 ultegra Di2

Formerly known as Curryinahurry

RyanH
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by RyanH

Any info or tips would be great. More generally, I was just curious if any fellow WW were attending.

RyanH
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by RyanH

After a week of riding 800km and 20K meters of climbing, I finished Haute Route Alps. I'll recap the event as well as some tips and pointers for those attending for the first time in the future. All I can say is that this was the hardest event I have ever done...bordering on the too hard category. My volume going into this wasn't great since I had 3 months of weekly mileage under 100km but I did ramp up volume in July and August. It's really an event that you need several months of 20 hour weeks if you want to perform well. If you want to just survive you can do less but it depends on how you'd like to enjoy it. Each day is brutally hard and I think it would be less pleasant taking the course in at a leisure pace since you'll be arriving so late every day and the village is more crowded at that point.

RyanH
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by RyanH

Pre-Event & General Info

To start off, prior to the event there is a major lack of communication. Overall, it feels extremely disorganized for an event of this size and price. I'll try to recap a handful of the questions that I had going into the event here:
  • In order to get your list of specific hotels, you'll need to contact them by email.
  • The "premium" hotel package is mostly subpar hotels. Megeve and Meribel were the only hotels that I felt matched the definition of premium. Grand Hotel Chevalier in Briancon was decent but if you're in this hotel, you're not leaving once you get there...it's quite the hike.
  • You won't be in the same hotel as your mates every night. If you want to make sure you all are in the same hotel, you probably need to reach out to them.
  • Expect wide variations in weather. We got lucky and didn't have rain despite it being projected to rain. Despite Nice or Megeve being very warm, it will be moderately cold in the mornings. I managed to get by with just a packable wind breaker the whole trip but I was cold many times on the descents.
  • You will need to bring your own pump, flat repair, maintenance items for the week and ride food. There are feed stations but many of them are in a timed segment so if you care about your time, most likely you won't stop. Plus, you may or may not get along with the food offered. Each feed station had potatoes (life saver with salt), slices of pizza bread, crackers, various fruits, OTE gels and bars, Coke, orange juice, OTE hydration fluids and water. I brought 300 euro worth of Maurten which was perfect for this event.
  • How does each morning go? You will have with you an HR post-ride backpack and an HR large duffel (decently large duffel). You get breakfast, do your morning routine, drop off the duffel in the specified spot in the lobby (do this before last minute otherwise you're taking the stairs down due to traffic jams in the elevators), and you pack whatever you want post-ride (towel for showers, comfortable shoes/sandals, comfortable clothes and beer, in my case).
  • What is the post ride like? If you finish in the top 100, the village is pretty empty. I was concerned about queues and it being busy. That was my primary motivation to push hard. You get into the village, drop your bike off at the secured bike park, grab your backpack, book a massage, take a shower (bring your own soap), and eat mediocre cafeteria food. After that, you may have a couple hours before check in. What I generally did was stuff my face with more food in town.
  • Is finding food going to be a challenge? This was a major concern as I was told by multiple people that getting calories in was going to the a challenge. All of the towns have at least one market that is open until at least 7pm. Bakeries and ice cream places were also open during the day and served as a quick way to get calories in. I generally stopped at the market to get water for the afternoon then hit up ice cream and a bakery. Despite what everyone told me, I ended up gaining weight this week so it can be done if you're resourceful.
  • Book reservations for dinner, ideally at 7:30 or 7:15. You'll have a briefing in the evening that goes to 7:00pm and theres a small snack and beer available. We had reservations for most of the week until Megeve. Megeve was big enough that it was not necessary. Also, to find restaurants, use Google but also confirm hours. Sunday and Monday were a challenge for restaurants that are open.
  • Gearing. I am a bit smooth brained and ran 53/39 with 11-30. I would not recommend this combo unless you're extremely strong and can climb at a very low cadence. I was worried about getting dropped on a descent or false flat. Lo and behold, my RD got bent in transit, I didn't realise it and my shifting was off by a whole cog so I didn't even use my 53x11. The climb profiles are deceptive. If you check my strava, you can see I did a ton of climbing under 60rpm. My preferred cadence is 65-72 rpm so anything under that was not by choice.
  • How hard should I push each day? This is hands down the most difficult decision. I had one friend that rode into form and ended up finishing 12th in the GC. I had another friend that was 5th overall until he had a GI issue and lost 50 minutes on day 6 and 7 (each). A third person, who does roughly 30 hours per week, seemed to push the hardest every day and kept that up all week to finish 3rd overall (female). I was about 10% off my fitness coming into the event so I target 245w on the long climbs (at 75kg) and then over the week I got a little more liberal with efforts and ended the week with ~260w on long climbs with some 280-300w efforts on shorter climbs. I had to do an empty the tank effort on Day 6 to help my friend maintain a top 10 on the GC and I was completely drained on the 7th day. At the end of the day, I think the correct answer is to ride easier than you think and pick up the pace throughout the day. You're not going to lose major GC places because you rode too easy in the beginning (unless you're a top 20 contender). So many people tried to keep with the front group and just put themselves in the box the rest of the week. Unless you can push 4.5 wpk multiple times for 1+ hours each, day in and day out (and at elevation), you shouldn't be in the front group.
  • Training. If you have access to long climbs, do a lot of those...I mean a lot and get used to doing them on back to back days. Figure out what your power is when you're in the box. If you live in a flat area, Zwift is probably the closest approximation of a climbing effort so I'd spend a lot of time on Zwift, at zero trainer difficulty so that the entire ride feels like a climb.
  • GI Issues. Since I'm a fatass, I didn't have any issues but so many people had GI issues or lost appetite. This is a result of jamming food down your pie hole at a rate your body isn't used to. I don't know how to prepare for this but it is a serious issue if you get it. I'd bring Immodium just in case since it seemed to affect 10-20% of the people I talked to.
  • Update October 2, 2022 on GI Issues: The above is slightly wrong. The GI issues that will sideline you are due to your body diverting blood away from your intestines. This is due to either going too deep into the red for too long or not managing hydration. Either way, once this happens, anything that enters your intestinal track is basically pushed right out the other end. You'll spend the entire night going back and forth to the toilet, won't get any sleep and will be further dehydrated.
I'll add more items as I think of them.

RyanH
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by RyanH

Registration Day

I flew into Nice on the Wednesday before the event. I rode around Nice Thursday and Friday and took Saturday as a rest day. Nice is super busy around this time so expect roads to be jammed pack with cars near or around Nice, Antibes, Monaco, Eze and Cannes. Riding was fantastic past those points.

Registration day opens at 11am and goes until 6pm (IIRC). Getting your bike over there can be a bit of a pain in the rear since you'll most likely have a fully assembled bike, a bike box, luggage and whatever else. I ended up doing two trips from Le Negresco, which was a few blocks away.

Basically, what happens this day is that you give them your bike box, they give you a HR duffel bag for your clothes for the week and a HR backpack. You transfer your items from your own suitcase into these items. Put your post ride items for the next day into the HR backpack and your clothes/gear for the week into the duffel bag. Packing cubes makes this a lot less of an awkward experience. I also brought way more clothes than I needed. You'll be wearing casual clothes every day so don't bother bringing nice dinner clothes. Really, you just need shorts, sweatpants, athletic shirts, sweatshirt, underwear, cycling clothes and a rain jacket.

I checked in at 12pm and it was a bit of a zoo. I came back later at 3pm and it was dead (which happened to be the ride time to loosen the legs). Once you get your registration info and stuff, you'll need to haul your bike, duffel and backpack to the hotel. This is the most inconvenient thing you'll have to do all week. After that, your duffel is transferred for you from day to day.

In the evening, there is a 45-60 minute briefing. They'll hammer into you that you need your red light. They won't let you on the start line without one. After that, you'll get pretty terrible food that evening. I'd skip the "pasta party" dinner and get a meal in Nice or Megeve (depending where you start).

Rider Briefing
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Registration Village
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You'll see more bling WW bikes in one place than you've ever seen in your life (this is coming from someone from LA where $10K bikes are the norm)
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Ride nutrition for a single stage (turns out you shouldn't have that many caffeine Maurtens in a ride, also, the Skratch Hyper Hydration mid stage was money)
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Queue for registering
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Just another $20K bike
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If only the saddle wasn't slammed and stem to the sky, this would be a pretty dope build
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RyanH
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by RyanH

My Gear

I brought the Calfee for the trip along with my Hed Belgiums laced to Carbon Ti
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I really like the Calfee so objectively, it was the best bike to bring since it's my most comfortable bikes and it packs down to into an easily transferrable suitcase. However, if I were to do it again I think I'd probably bring the Litespeed but that's only because I'm more proud of the Litespeed. I felt like a bit of a Fred on the Calfee and being in a sea of baller bikes, I felt like the Litespeed would have fit in well. The Hed Belgiums were also an objectively best choice. There were a lot of technical descents and having alloy rim brakes helped me get top 10% for the Strava segments (usually top 20 for the day) without pushing the descents (also, plan for a lot of terrible descenders). However, with a newly acquired friend hitting the deck due to a tire blowout, I remembered why I primarily ride tubulars. These are high risk descents where a small mistake can have serious consequences (e.g. a 30m fall or more over a ledge). I would've felt a lot more comfortable on tubulars for this reason. So, doing it again, I would bring tubulars and take the risk of having to deal with a flat.

Other gear that I brought:
  • 6x Giordana FRC Bibs
  • 6x jerseys
  • Castelli ultra thin wind breaker (used almost every day)
  • Full finger gloves (used every day beyond day 1 - just in case you hit the deck, you want your palms protected)
  • Oakley EVZero Photochromic glasses
  • Aftershockz Run Headphones (French ban in-ear headphones, so they are not allowed but people had these and there were no issues)
  • 3x bidons
  • Lezyne mini floor pump and tire gauge (TSA dented my first one so I had to buy another for 70 euro in NIce...)
  • Flat repair kit on the bike
  • Arm warmers (did not use)
  • Castelli Gabba jersey (did not use)
  • Assos rain jacket (did not use)
  • Assos shell (did not use)
  • Leg warmers (did not use)
  • 2x Base layers (did not use)
  • 2x latex tubes (did not use)
  • 2x Specialized Turbo Cottons
Did a power test up Col D'Eze for a time of 29:22 at 295w (this is also the last time I'd see a heart rate north of 160 the entire trip):
Image

jurez
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by jurez

nice writeup thanks. really nice to read.

Ypuh
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by Ypuh

Cool read Ryan. Sounds like you had fun!

Most comments on Haute Route I've heard were very positive. The pricing already makes it a kind of exclusive event, but it seems like they took the 'experience' to the next level. Would love to join one time for their more crazy events like in Oman.
Cervelo S3 - 7.29kg

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MrCurrieinahurry
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by MrCurrieinahurry

Awesome write up and massive amount of respect for putting in shifts for your buddies

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micky
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by micky

Really enjoyed the read, something I'd like to do at least once!

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by fruitfly

Thanks very much for the first hand account-greatly appreciate the time and thought that went into your report!
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RyanH
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by RyanH

I'll do a brief writeup on each stage as well. That'll be a tomorrow thing.

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C36
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by C36

Great report! Usually that’s not my thing but here I read it all with inerest!

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