The cheers went on late into the night. It seemed like the later the arrival of the cyclist to the summit of Alpe d’Huez, the louder the cheer. It was the end of the epic Marmotte sportive and we had the best view from our chalet, on the home stretch, just 1km from the finish line.
At 174 kilometres and with 5,000m of climbing this granfondo is not your normal Sunday sportive. Even the fastest riders (some ex-professionals and cyclists paid to ride) take around 6 hours to complete the course.
But it was the faces of the latecomers that really moved me. These cyclists of all ages, nationality and ability, had clearly put in everything to get to the top of that final mountain.
I saw hundreds of dropped heads, hollow looks and several of them even in tears. Every person was having their own personal battle to complete the challenge. Giving it their all to accomplish something they knew would take them to their physical limit was quite inspiring.
My part in the event was to support a lovely crew from London, here to do exactly that.
The group gets together every year to challenge themselves to do something epic on a bike. From bike mechanic to lawyer, what brings this group together is a passion for cycling and seeking out the next big challenge.
I was working for Just Pedal, who are a top cycle event/tour provider and quite simply amazing people.
The whole trip felt more like a holiday than hard work and this is something also at the core of our Eat Sleep Cycle philosophy.
The psychology of the group arriving for, preparing for and celebrating the finish of the Marmotte (which chapeau to each and every one of them they did) was a pleasure to be a part of.
It’s sometimes the smallest bit of encouragement that can make a big difference.
Over our celebratory beer we pondered why 8500 cyclists would put themselves through this.
Is it a break from reality, a distraction from the grind of everyday life, or an addiction to the endorphines released after strenuous exercise?
One things for sure, this group is already planning their next trip!