La Marmotte Granfondo Alpes 2023

Location: Bourg-d'Oisans, France

Thousands of riders had a crack at the multiple mountain ascents on the Marmotte Alpes, and many succombed to the heat. I was in the early wave of around 200 riders (leaving Bourg d'Oisans at 5am) so it wasn't getting properly warm until early afternoon at Pieds Alpes. There was a great setup at the feed station before my first climb up Alpe d'Huez, and in the 30C heat I soaked myself to try and avoid over-heating. It was still very quiet on the climb, as I was only getting caught by the racers who had started 2 hours after me, and it gradually got cooler towards the summit. After going over the Sarenne and back down the valley it was around 38C at the (now very busy) feed station, so I spent a bit more time trying to cool off. The final climb up Alpe d'Huez was more enjoyable than the first time as there were lots more riders and supporters to take my mind off the grovelling climb.


I decided to travel there by land and sea, so managed the entire return trip with two channel ferry crossings, two TGV train trips and around 1000km of cycling. Aside from the stay in Bourg d'Oisans, I also had three rooms booked in various points en route. I was able to take my bike on the TGV by popping the wheels off and putting it all in a Topeak bike cover (a very lightweight zip-up bag, effectively).


I rode up to Huez on Saturday afternoon, via Villard-Reculas to the west. Registration was very straightforward, despite the fact that I'd been unable to upload my certification in advance. I didn't even have a medical certificate, but my full British Cycling race licence was deemed sufficient proof that I was capable to taking part.

Sunday: The Marmotte

It was a cool 5am start for us Ultrafondo riders, and the couple of hundred or so of us set off in a steady group along the valley before heading up towards the first climb - Col de la Croix de Fer. By Galibier we'd thinned out a lot, and the rising temperatures meant that I had to stop up there to put a couple of handfuls of snow down my back! The first ascent of Alpe d'Huez was rather dispiriting, as I was getting caught by the short-distance racers who had started a couple of hours after us. The second ascent (after going up and down the Sarenne) was more fun as I was riding amongst the non-racers who were just out to enjoy the day. It was a lot hotter by then though - around 38 degrees at the foot of the climb.

Marmotte Alpes Ultrafondo #stages

Ride on 2023-06-25 03:00:27, at

Gear: Orro (Orro Terra)

233km in 11:17:43

Average speed20.6 kmh
Max speed79.3 kmh
Average heart rate139 bpm
Average power175 Watts
Elevation gain6742 metres

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About the author

My name is John Swindells and I'm a keen recreational cyclist with a preference for long one-day rides. I've also previously dabbled in time trialling and cyclo-cross. See more of what I get up to on Strava!

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