Every road cyclist dreams of riding the amazing Alpe D’Huez climb in the Western Alps and Sasha Cycling creator Alex Field is no exception. She realised her dream this summer which gave her the opportunity to put Sasha shorts to the ultimate test.
Q. What made you choose to ride Alpe D'Huez and what is your awareness of its iconic history?
For years I’ve watched Tour de France riders racing up it and you can feel the electric atmosphere they create. When eight riders from my cycling club ran a trip I jumped at the chance to go with them as part of a cycling holiday based in Chambery.
Q. How did you feel the morning of the ride?
Mixed emotions of both nervous trepidation at riding a 1860m climb and excitement. I managed to eat some breakfast, but my stomach was full of butterflies.
Q. What were the dark moments and when did they happen?
I made the classic mistake of trying to stay with the strongest rider at the start and obviously struggled but as Anne sailed up the steeper lower slopes the others made me go steady. Later on, I ran out of water but Anne from our club helped me out, which proves how club mates can get you through the worst parts.
Q. Tell us about the highlights of the journey from bottom to top?
The comradery at the start and then the support and encouragement of everyone on the climb is unforgettable. We met a wonderful French couple and I rode with them for a while with the man on a road bike and his wife on an electric bike. In fact, there were a lot of different styles of bikes, mostly road bikes, some mountain, electric, a couple of fat bikes, one cargo bike with children in it, but also roller blades and people walking up on foot.
It’s a tough climb but the view at the top is amazing when you look down at all those bends below and realise you have climbed them all. That feels great.
Q. What goes up must come down, so what was it like to return to the bottom afterwards?
It’s a long, fast descent and I really enjoyed seeing all those corners again but it was tiring and the some of the damaged road surface made it tricky in places.
Q.What's your standout memory?
The simple but amazing sense of achievement crossing the line at the top.
Q. Finally, any advice about riding Alpe D'Huez to pass on?
The first few bends are the steepest, but the gradient does reduce, so set off at a steady pace and don’t worry if you need a break. Ideally, stop on one of the bends to make it easier to get going again and use the water stop at the second church in D’Huez. In other words stay hydrated throughout the ride or you'll suffer.