Day 6: Alpe d’Huez
Alpe d’Huez day! Alpe d’Huez is a very popular climb and has been a stage end quite a few times. There are 21 switchback turns, some of them themed, leading up to the top. The town at the bottom of Alpe d’Huez is about 2 hours away so we left the chalet at 7:30 this morning.
I think the drive there went well, but I slept most of the way. We found a place to park about 3/4 of a mile from town and got ready to head off for the day. The bikers took the road leading to the start of the climb, while Jo and Eileen walked into the town. We wandered around for a while, keeping an eye out for both sandwich shops and a place to sit.
It was about 85 degrees at 10:00 am so we knew that shade was a must. Last time we came, we sat on turn 2 in the sun all day, and we learned from that mistake. As we were walking, Nick messaged that he bike was not working for him, and so he met up with us. We found a bakery and picked up sandwiches for the day and started looking for a spot to sit along the route. We found a spot under a tree just before the 15 km banner. As luck would have it, we were also right across from a bar.
As we were waiting, Matt biked up to the top of Alp d’Huez. Along the way are a few notable turns, such as Beefeater Corner and Dutch Corner. It’s a party all day on the mountain, but I think Bastille Day added even more flair.
After making it to the top (or as close to the top as was allowed), he made his way back down. The decent was a bit slower than normal due to the giant crowds. At the bottom, Matt ran into Paul, one of the riders from our trip on 2018. They chatted for a bit, then Matt met the group under the tree. Bob and Phil had already joined. We all are our lunches with refreshments from across the street (in souvenir cups!).
We relaxed and waited for the caravan to pass. Because the crowds were up on the mountain, there weren’t too many people on our area. We were able to get more swag and were entertained. Abut an hour later, we cheered the riders as they came through. After the peloton had passed, we packed up our bags and beelined back to the van. As we were walking back, another group of riders passed by and one of the members of Asana threw their water bottle to Matt – great souvenir. It can get crowded and heavy traffic getting out, so we wanted to be able to leave while the race was still going up the climb.
At first, the police were guarding the exit of the parking lot and were not letting people leave. Though, we were also waiting for Marc, who had gotten stuck at the top. Once the roads were opened, one van left with some of the group while the others (including me and Matt) waited for Marc. We ended up on the road with the caravan cars and saw many people waving from the side of the road. Our chef was sick, so we stopped for dinner at an a American themed BBQ restaurant called Buffalo Grill. they had some burgers and such, and also peanut butter cream brÃ»lÃ©e and cotton candy.
We made it back to the chalet at 11:15 and went to sleep. Tomorrow will be a later start (yay!) to bike around the chalet area.