Digesting the Haute Route Video

The organizer’s of the Haute Route have put together an excellent documentary of last year’s event. It is embedded below. While it clocks in at 45 minutes, it is worth the time. For those without the time or attention, even the first couple minutes are worth watching just to understand what the toughest amateur event in the world is like.

I found myself intending just to watch a little bit of it last night, and watched the entire thing in one sitting. Fascinating stuff, and I cannot wait for the event.

Here are some thoughts I took away from the video:

  • They said that weight is a huge factor, and that you’ll remember what you ate in December on the hills. When I heard that quote, it took me a second to remember what month it is, and what I had for dinner. Oops!
  • Alpe d’Huez looks a lot like Hogpen Gap. Aside from that and a couple others (Izoard, Glandon), many of the climbs don’t look any harder than the ones around here. Easy or hard, they will certainly take their toll over the week.
  • That Marathon stage? Wow! We’re still waiting for the 2013 route to be released, but I’m certain there will be a stage like that. For my Southeastern readers, that’s like doing Assault on Mount Mitchell after doing Assault on the Carolinas for two days straight.
  • Riders consume between 3,500 to 5,000 calories on each stage. That seems high. I don’t think I consume that much on my mountain centuries. That said, I’ll be erring on the side of caution, and over-consumption. The last thing I want to do is bonk in the Alps.
  • I was not sure how much the beauty of the area would minimize the suffering. The answer from this video, it doesn’t, but it sure makes it worthwhile. It was reassuring seeing how many people appreciated the beauty while being exhausted from the effort
  • I wasn’t sure how competitive the riders would be given that it’s an amateur event. I think that depends on your placement. Most likely I will be taking it easy, buckling in for the long haul, and cooperating with my fellow riders rather than racing them.
  • Peter Pouly, Emma Pooley and the Kenyan Riders come off like celebrities. I hope to meet them next year if they participate.
  • I thought the Alpe d’Huez Time Trial would be like a rest day, but that’s not the way it was presented in the film. It looks very difficult, and my guess is they’ll do the same next year.
  • I was thinking that the last stage would be easier because of the descent into Nice. On the contrary, it might be the most difficult because of the sheer number of miles. Many of them will be flat or downhill, but still …
  • The teams stuck together a lot, which was very cool to see. I look forward to enjoying a beer with my Vicious Cycle teammates in Nice.

After seeing this video, I can safely say that making it to the finish line will be a major accomplishment, and this will be one of my greatest life achievements. I can’t wait. Even though I’m injured now, I plan to be there unless my legs fall off.


21 responses to “Digesting the Haute Route Video

  • Gerry

    Great notes from the video, Aaron. I was thinking many of the same things, including a comment that same guy said about suffering like a dog if you don’t put in the proper training! Alpe d’Huez is a brute, by the way, especially the first 2 km, which are 11%, I think. If they throw this in at the end of a stage (with the ‘real’ climb, not the one they did the day before the TT this year) it’ll really be a test.

    I’m getting more and more curious about the route. I hope it’s soon so I can pore over the map during the holidays.

    And yeah, I think there’ll be a beer or three in Nice…

    Get back on the bike soon.

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, Gerry. I thought I read somewhere that they planned to keep the d’Huez TT this year, but I could be wrong. We have a few steeper climbs that are similar around here. They’ll probably make for some good training.

  • stickyjumper

    Regarding calories, I’ve read in several places you can’t digest more than 200-300 calories p/hour while riding. So if these stages take 5-8 hours, we’re talking 1,000 to 2,400 calories.

    I’d expect someone doing HR to eat 3,500 to 5,000 per day. Maybe that’s what they meant in the video?

    • aaronwest

      That would make more sense. Usually I go with 200 calories per hour, and will eat something more substantial about mid-way through. They also noted in the video that we would burn 5,000 calories everyday, which is probably not the case except for maybe the marathon stage.

  • James

    I will definitely watch the video over the Christmas holidays. I am very curious to see the event as you lads are training for it, and I am also looking to do it one year myself! Hope the healing is going well.

  • Sandra

    Egads! Wow. Us flatlanders here on the Plains of the US cannot even imagine what it’s like to do mountains like that. . . our practice (sad) is riding up and down the several story downtown car garages. 😦 Don’t pity me, I couldn’t handle them hills!

  • Jim Brennan

    Great flick! Incredible scenery.

  • bicycletravels

    Thanks for posting the video. I so wanna do this now… one day! 🙂

  • Matt P

    Insane video…watched the hole thing with jaw open the entire time… Aaron, hope the hip heals quickly. Sorry for the injury, but the timing is much better now than any later in the season. Can’t wait to follow your training, and to live vicariously through you!

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, Matt. Hope you’ve been doing well. Yes, it is quite ambitious, and I’m a little nervous given the injury, but I have a lot of support and a good recovery/training plan, so I’m optimistic.

  • MAtt

    great. thanks for not bagging on me for my spelling… “whole”. I am looking forward to the spring, and hope to give Mitchell another go. I’ll look for your on similiar events in our schedule, and will be excited to hear a report of how you are doing.

    • aaronwest

      Heh, didn’t even notice. Keep me posted on your Mitchell plans. When I do get back, the doctor wants me to ramp up slowly. There’s a chance my schedule will change for the early months depending on how things go, but I’m hopeful Mitchell and AOTC are still doable.

  • Steve D.

    Awesome video! Watched all b4 work this morning.

    Good luck on your tour next year.

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