On the 6th June, team Jura Sports participated at a crazy event : Alpe D’HuZes , a cycling charity event for cancer research. The aim of the event is to cycle up the famous Tour de France climb the Alpe d’Huez 6 times in one day. Some people do it once, some do it 6 times. All the participants are raising funds, and this year it collected an amazing 12 million euros ! We raised over EUR 7000, thank you to our sponsors for the generous donations and the moral support. It was a really tough but memorable day, worth every single pedal stroke ! Here’s the story from Team Jura Sports : Casper Wassenberg (captain), the Oudendijk brothers Robert and Patrick, and myself Thierry Bessède
Waking up at 3am is never easy… After a huge bowl of porridge and 3 espressos, I quickly dress up with warm clothes and leave as soon as possible. The temperature was 5 degrees but thankfully it wasn’t raining. The event starts at 4.30am at the bottom of the climb, and our appartment was at the top. The brilliant event organisers had motorcycles leading the way down for those who had to first cycle down. It was a chilly ride but overall we felt pretty good.
At 4am we join the queue with all the other riders, and we’re ready to climb the Alpe d’Huez. We finally pass the start line at 5am and game on ! The road is very crowded, lots of riders with different abilities mean I am overtaking dozens of people every few meters. There are 5000 participants overall !
The climb up is lit up with candles, it’s very emotional. The candles represent those who have passed away from cancer. Some people cry. It’s a very strange atmosphere, somehow sad but somehow inspirational. We’re all in this together !
My goal for the morning was to at least climb 3 times. I did it even better with 4 times before noon. My legs felt really good but it’s the mental fatigue which started to be draining. Although there are a lot of riders on the road, it’s very lonely out there. I’m one of the strongest on the day, so I can’t really stop to chat in fear of losing my rhythm.
The descends are VERY cold. It’s around 8 degrees with lots of fog. For the downhill I put a rain jacket, my winter har, gloves and scarf. We’re freezing ! But soon enough we climb again and it very quickly warms up.
During the 4th climb, I see my friend Casper and ride a few kilometres with him, it’s nice to finally talk to someone ! He needs a little break (he’s on his 3rd) so I carry on. Soon after I see my other friend Patrick who is on his 3rd climb, a great achievement for someone who isn’t used to hill riding ! We finish the climb together. It’s noon and we take an extended break. We need all the energy we can get ! Potatoes, crisps, energy bars, Coca Cola, Red Bull, etc… Robert soon joins, he also did 4 climbs, amazing !
The weather is changing, and the sun is making a long waited appearance… finally !
Here are the times of the first four climbs (on the Strava Alpe d’Huez segment)
- 1:06:17 (my best time of the day)
Incredible that my times only have a delta of less than 3 minutes ! Consistency is key !
Patrick, Robert and I descended around 1pm together as Casper decided to extend his lunch break. For the first time the descent felt great as the sun warmed up the roads and we didn’t freeze at all. The warm weather allowed us to get rid of our layers and climb in short sleeves! Finally! We took our time enjoying the views and talking to many people. This was my slowest time going up, but one of the most enjoyable as I was with my friends.
The atmosphere started to get better as volunteers also finally deserved the better weather. It was party time. You could hear songs like “Cotton Eye Joe”, “Jump”, “No limits” and many other very cheesy songs were really motivating, as volunteers all danced around the corners and offered drinks and food.
Patrick decides to take a little breather and Robert and I finish our 5th climb. I chose to take a short break as Robert needed a bit more time. On the 6th climb, I’m feeling mentally fatigued but actually my legs felt really good. I decide to “go for it”, maybe I can get my best time of the day? Well, it was close, I come in 11 seconds behind my best climb of the day. Quite amazing. All those FTP efforts and the bike camp in Le Grand Colombier are paying off big time. It’s 4pm and I’m at the top, someone on the climb already handed me a beer (that’s probably the moment I decided to stop…). I decide to wait for my friends here and not go for a 7th climb (for 2020?) and celebrate the brilliant event.
Soon enough Robert shows up, feeling fresh also, and hugely proud of his achievement. We go back to the apartment in fear of catching a cold as we wait, but shortly after Casper and Patrick finish their 5th climb of the day. Amazing!
The party begins. Volunteers and participants gather around the finish line and we celebrate the achievements of the day, thank all the volunteers for their brilliant work, and sing along to cheesy dutch songs (which I now know the chorus!). There are lots of tears from people all over. But the sense of achievement, inspiration and courage surpasses the feeling of sadness.
I cannot recommend the event enough, simply brilliant. Thanks to my team mate Casper, Robert and Patrick, and Han for his encouragements on the day supporting us on the course. We raised over EUR 7000 for cancer research and are left with life long memories.
My climbs :
We climbed as a team 22 times the Alpe d’Huez, that’s 22’000m of positive elevation.
My ride : 6 climbs in 12 hours (10 hours moving time), 160km with 6’600m elevation. Check out my file on STRAVA
12 million euros raised overall
Team Jura Sports raised EUR 7’200.
Jura Sports donated 1% of its January-June turnover. This means YOU donated also.
You can still donate HERE !
Thank you Alpe d’HuZes ! See you in 2020 !