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Haute Route Day 1

by Andrew Palfrey on 22 Aug 2011
Haute Route 2011 Helena Darvelid
Coach of Artemis Racing Andrew Palfrey shares with us the experience thus far in the Haute Route cycling race taking place in the French Alps.

Greetings from Megeve, which is located in the French Alps.

I am going a crazy bicycle race called the 'Haute Route'. It is from Geneva, Switzerland to Nice on the Mediterranean coast. It is 730 km over seven days. However, there is over 17,000mtrs of vertical ascent, which is largely divided amongst 15 fairly major mountain passes, or cols.

I arrived in Geneva on Friday evening and spent all of Saturday just taking care of all the details for entering the race, organising my food etc and some final bike tweaking.

Today was day one. I have added a link below from my little gps unit which details the route and other details. My aim was to take it quite easy today, as there are some heinous days coming up. I must say that I failed a little on that aim. I was feeling really good up the Columbiere (approx 1200mtrs of climbing over approx 16km. This took me around 75 mins.. My heart rate was higher than I would have preferred, but it did feel ok.


The views were incredible and the descent quite amazing. The next climb up the Aravis was tougher. It was a smaller climb. But seemed to drag on and the day was getting hotter. The descent from Aravis was reasonably tricky, but very enjoyable. From there it was approx 15km to the finish at Megeve over rolling terrain. It was tough going, as I was very short on fluids. But I got the finish line in reasonable shape after getting dragged along by three other riders for the final 5km. My time was approx 4hrs, 38 mins. Click here to view Garmin mapping from day one.

Weather-wise, it was a glamour. We started this morning on the banks of Lake Geneva as the sun was rising. Not a cloud in the sky and no wind for the entire ride. It was really hot at the finish. Did a lot of recovery at the finish with drinking, eating, massage and compression clothing.

The result page is below. Looks like I came 113th out of 300 or so riders. I have never raced before, so happy with whatever it says. I am part of a team of sailing people as well. Paul Larsen also comes from the Melbourne area and has been based in Cowes. He is involved in a project to set a new speed record for a sailing craft (see Sail Rocket). Mark Turner is well known as running many sailing events through Offshore Challenges (now OC Third Pole - who run the Haute Route). Fraser Brown is a Kiwi sailor that is now Cowes based. Simon Morgan is a yachtie from Cowes, and we also have Jim Thomas.


Paul did the best in our team. He has spent the last three weeks in the Alps training and holidaying. It has made a big difference to his riding. Does not seem that long ago that I was dragging him up hills on the Isle of Wight. He finished 12 mins ahead of me today. Mark and I rode together for the whole climb of Columbiere. I finished a minute ahead of him. Fraser was another 20 mins or so back, which was a bloody good effort. Simon had bike dramas halfway up the Columbiere and actually swapped bikes with a guy that was already in the sag-wagon (having given up for the day). Simon and Jim had a big day after all that, finishing in just a tick over six hours. We have just done some team-bonding fixing the gear shifter on Simon's bike. He is all good to go tomorrow.


Tomorrow is tougher than today. Today we did 2200mtrs of climbing. Tomorrow is 3000mtrs over three climbs with a heinous uphill finish. I have attached the route profile. It will be important to leave something in reserve tomorrow, as Day 3 is a shocker. But more about that in tomorrow's report....

Haute Route website

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