Epic Camp - Day 4


  • Alpe D'Huez Triathlon
    • Time Trial up ADH (12km, 1030m elevation, 9% av. grade)
    • 1500m Swim at ADH Summit (1850m elevation)
    • 10km Run at ADH Summit (yes, still at 1850m elevation)


Despite hitting lows in the 5 range (1=dead man walking, 10=rockstar) while climbing Col du Lautaret, the night's stay in La Grave with a banging veggie dinner brought me back to life. Worth noting that the first few nights of camp were a bit tough on the dinner front given that I'm a meatless, no eggs, dairy-free weirdo. Not a lot of veggies, fruit or beans/legumes - 75% of my normal diet - had me running on that new high-carb, all-gluten diet. Anyway, the injection of veggies, hummus and lentils at the Auberge Edelweiss lodging had me rocking at about an 8 out of 10 upon waking.


Alpe D'Huez Time Trial

While we're hitting a bunch of iconic Tour climbs, for me (and most others), Alpe D'Huez is the granddaddy of them all. Not so much with respect to difficulty or beauty, but more to the amazing battles waged on its surface and the madness of the crowds during this pivotal Tour segment. (During the Tour, as many as a million people gather on the narrow 12km stretch of road that winds up the mountain. It's f'ing awesome.)

Pulled from Cycling Tips

Pulled from Cycling Tips

When I learned that a time trial up Alpe D'Huez would be part of this camp, I knew I had to sign up. To say that I was excited for this climb would be a massive understatement. That said, it was just Day 4, so as much as I wanted to hammer it, I knew it best to hold back just slightly. In all honesty, I'm a bit terrified of this camp's volume and camp completion (+quality Kona training +killer memories) is all I'm after...

After a 30km descent from La Grave to the foot of Alpe D'Huez, we gathered as a group for a photo. Ten minutes later, with some cheers and shouting "Allez!" (ah|LAY; French for "Go!"), we were off. As we started the climb, the weather shifted from fog to rain, which I welcomed. I felt strong and really loved the epic feel of the weather as I worked my way up into the clouds and through each of the 21 hairpin turns. Even hitting my target watts, I quickly fell back from the strong riders in our group. After 1hr4mins, mostly riding solo - which was cool, I reached the top. (I actually wasn't sure where the top was technically, so rode on for a few minutes.) Up this high, the sun was out and views from the top of the mountain were pretty rad.

FOR THE GEEKS: Alpe D'Huez is typically about an hour ascent for strong climbers (relatively strong climbers that is; top Tour riders bang it out in about half that time). With that in mind, I wanted to hold power at about 85% of my Functional Threshold Pace (FTP; watts I can hold for a one-hour all-out effort) since altitude and the fatigue I was carrying would make a bigger effort quite risky. 85% of 265w is 225w. I eased into things, starting around 220 watts, but eventually brought the power up to 230-235. I finished the climb at a NP of 229. TrainingPeaks link & Strava link if looking for a deep dive. (TP time is 1:07 since I went up as far as possible before hitting 'lap'; wasn't sure where the Strava segment ended.)

Alpe D'Huez Summit Swim

After about thirty minutes of chilling at the summit and getting into our swim gear, we kicked off our 1500m time trial in an outdoor pool. (The pool was quite nice, but the staff were militant about swim attire on deck. No joke, the guy refused to let people stand on the pool deck if they weren't wearing a speedo/swim briefs. Seemed to be very worried about bad tan lines...)

Feeling good, I decided to push a bit on the swim. Despite being at altitude, I some how got in my mind that I should be pacing around 1:30-35 per 100meters. (I normally swim yards, so maybe that was it.) I mentioned this in the lane selection process, and others seemed impressed that I'd be pushing that pace. I realized immediately that it might be a touch fast, but I thought, "Well, shit, now I'm committed to it. Better not come up way short and look like a fraud." So, I pushed. I also had my buddy Walter in my lane, who's just a slightly slower swimmer, so had him as a carrot to catch.

My final time was 23:47, or 1:35/100m. For the last 500 I could really feel the altitude. My stomach tightened smaller and smaller with each lap. I started to think of the new Phelps UA commercial where he's barfing on pool deck. Definitely happy with the time, likely went a bit too hard.

Alpe D'Huez Summit Run

Soon after the swim wrapped, we rolled into the trail run. The swim had my stomach in knots, so I wasn't expecting much from myself. That said, the pace started fairly slow on the trail since we had a good bit of gradient throughout (1352ft of climbing, so a challenging course).

I made it through the first loop in 21min10sec and the leader Adam K was holding back a good bit on the downhill sections. I had Hokas on, which I think really help cushion the downhill running, so I pushed. By the start of the second lap I had 1st and felt good. Despite going off course a bit, I was able to extend the lead and finish the 10km in 41:30, 4:13/km or 6:35/mi.

FOR THE GEEKS: My pacing was 6:43/mi for first half, 156 Av HR & 6:26/mi with 162 Av HR (169max) for second half. Training Peaks page here.


With the combined time from the TT + swim + run, I found myself in 4th overall. Not bad. Adam K took 1st, John Newsom took 2nd, and Shannon Charles took 3rd. Definitely pleased with my effort and happy to have taken out the run. A big highlight on the day was a HUGE pizza, sans fromage + champignons. Negative splitted the 'za as well.


Is dope. 30km descent there and 30km up coming back. Crazy cliff views and waterfalls. Even a chopper in the mix.