Le Marmotte - 05/07/08

A retrospective report from Mike Liddall

Known to be the mother of all sportives, at 174km with over 5,000m of climbing and reaching up to 2,640m, this race lives up to all the statistics and leaves you short of breath with excitement.

Whilst others might dream of running out onto the famous Wembley turf on cup final day, we cyclists close our eyes and imagine riding up one particular climb. That climb of course is l'Alpe DHuez. Cycling's amphitheatre of pain, passion, death or glory.

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be a professional cyclist in Le Tour then enter Le Marmotte.

From the moment the gun goes off at the start, to the adrenaline and sweat of taking on the best climbers in Europe, to the crowds lining the route and all the names painted on the roads.......at the end of it all you will feel like a pro. Just do it!

The race organisation is excellent as is the standard of riding from all participants. There are trade teams, clubs and individuals from all over the world. I chatted to riders from the U.S., Russia, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Holland, Italy and Spain and the odd Englishman and woman. And all ages too. I met an English guy who was competing in his 5th event and he was 74yrs old!!

The sun shone, the weather was a hot 28-32 degrees and most of all the views and scenery were breathtaking.

Be under no illusions though. It is a hard event and one that you cannot train hard enough for. I knew I was under prepared with a diet of just two or three laps of Richmond park midweek and a 4-5hr Surrey hills weekend ride for a period of 3 months. Whilst no British hills can prepare you for something like the Galibier or Alpe dHuez, general fitness conditioning can.

For anyone seriously considering entering Le Marmotte next year I would recommend doing London to Brighton and back over Leith Hill each time at least once per month interspersed with hard club rides on a Tuesday night and at least 4hr rides on other weekends.

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