La Haute Route

Quick reminder: I grew up in the south of France (far from the original Haute Route), in a place that could be wet one day and sunburnt the next. Yes, it’s possible – it’s called the Pyrenees. A mountain climate in the southernmost part of France. Lots of rain means things tend to grow quickly and that’s what I’ve done: 100% organically grown. Try as I might, I’ll never pass as a climber. I’m more of a giant rouleur with quadriceps proportioned for the CLM.

When I was a kid, I always had two options when I left the house: turn right and head up the valley towards the legendary passes. Or left down the valley to a flat/rolling loop… I suppose it’s no secret that I chose the flat route.

Years later, this regular training has apparently paid off, as I’m now able to put out enough watts to make you cough on an unbridled 50cc bike on the flat. On the other hand, climbing the passes involves using the brakes far too much… to avoid going backwards. And, quite frankly, I’d rather spend my budget on coffees than brake pads.

Crossing the most famous and brutal passes in the Alps...

As you can see, all the stars were aligned for me to accept the offer from OC Sport – organisers of the Geneva triathlon – to join the Haute Route des Alpes 2018 as an ambassador. Yes, it goes up all day, every day, but who wouldn’t want to! Over 20K of ascent in one week, crossing the most famous and brutal passes in the Alps… F**k yeah! Rouleur, grimpeur, who cares? Oh yes, I have to stand on my pedals every time I have to climb… a railway bridge…

It's premium (very), friendly, sporty, stimulating, one of those experiences of a lifetime.

But what is the Haute Route?

All right, that’s enough blah, blah, blah, I’ve forgotten what’s important. What exactly is the Haute Route? It was once a road through the Alps: the original route linked Megève to Nice… “Haute Route” literally means “the high road”. So, no bonus for guessing that most of the route was over high passes, leading from Alpine pastures to a mojito by the sea.

Years later, the route became famous – famous for being a brute that kills legs, kills lungs, empties your head – and is now a brand label with various events around the world. Norway, the United States, Japan, the Pyrenees (oh yeah baby, back to basics), the Dolomites, the Ventoux and many more – choose your favourite route…

It’s premium (very), friendly, sporty, stimulating, one of those life experiences you absolutely must tick off your list…

The Haute Route combines the best – at least on paper! I’m likely to cry like a baby after the first brutal climb on 26 August. Whatever happens, I’ll make sure I make it to the end, smile through the pain and make a few new friends along the way!

So eager to climb the passes I've heard so much about, so eager to have fun!

So a new training plan

So yes, believe it or not, I have adapted my training. I’m now turning on my doorstep… towards the punchy, hilly roads of Bern, Switzerland. I worked on resistance and hill repeats… It wasn’t even that difficult; I even found myself enjoying myself!

I suppose I could have lost a bit of weight, or splashed out on some super-light super-matos on, but hey! I gave myself a kick up the arse to train intelligently and prepare as best I could, without fundamentally changing who I am… simply because I love being on a bike and the Haute Route is first and foremost about the pleasure of being a road cyclist, of riding a bike, of enjoying the experience.

So yes, despite the mountain passes that await me, I can’t wait to get there. So eager to climb the hills I’ve heard so much about, so eager to have fun!

So meet up there for a climb together, a run with a ball, a post-race protein shake or even a lemon sorbet! See you soon on the Haute Route!