LaMarmotte, how would you pace yourself?

Hello guys,

In the coming weeks i’m going to attend LaMarmotte, which is a race in the french alpes. The distance is 174km and about 5200 meters in elevation. I was wondering how to best pace myself throgh the event?

I am 180cm and weigh about 78kg and have a FTP on about 300watt indoor.

We start with ascend up Glandon which is a climb that goes on for about 25km with an average climb % on 6-7% i think? Then downhill and next up is Telegraph 12 km with about 8% gradient, a small downhill which lead to Galibier which is 17km and 7% gradient - then a long downhill which leads to the bottom of Alpe D’huez which is 12km and about 10%

So how to pace? And any of you HAVE experience ? What % could you hold of FTP for the climbs? I figure i need some estimate of what i can do for each of the climbs.

Thanks

I have done the telegraph and galibier combo.

The telegraph is very manageable, steady gradient, well shaded, smooth roads. The galibier on the other hand is pretty grueling. It is super exposed, goes on forever, usually a headwind and the gradient is quite inconsistent. Gets very steep once you get to the twistier bit in the last 6km.

For a day like that it is more just an eating competition, don’t go overboard on the glandon. Just ride at tempo (85% ftp) there and then a bit easier up the telegraph (75-80%) as you have less recovery before the galibier. When I did it I rode the telegraph at 75% which was about 3.4 w/kg and it was fast enough, was just about able to hold that up the galibier but it felt like threshold probably due to not enough food and the altitude.

Altitude on the galibier might start to get to you because it is quite high. And you won’t be able to eat much as much as you would like to on the descents so eat tons when climbing even if it is uncomfortable.

The valley to the bottom of the Alpe should give you tons of time to recover and eat, so I honestly wouldn’t worry about it until you are at the bottom.

Also stop in Vallorie for food don’t just dive straight into the galibier, some great cafes and it is a super pretty village.

Planning to do this route with a friend this year as well so report back, I haven’t done Glandon or the Alpe before.

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We did a couple of years ago I was about 84kg at the time and had an FTP of 265ish

This is how I broke the day up

Probably went out too hard my plan was to hold .85 on all climbs which was probably too ambitious and also worked hard in the valleys than I had planned

Glandon .86IF
Telegraph .81
Galiber .72
Alpe d’Huez .76

I struggled a lot on Galiber. We stopped for a cheese and ham baguette in Valoire (sp?) after the Telegraph and it didn’t sit at all right. I was also worried about the cut off time so had to work really hard between the top of the Galbier and Alpe d’Huez to make the cut of slot

Which time did you get?

I did La Marmotte in 2016, I’m the same height and weight as you. I think in 2016 ftp was about 280 indoors. I had no power meter on the bike though. So I ride the first two climbs as easy as possible. I made the mistake of getting isolated along the valley road (don’t do this) I found the galibier really tough. The descent is great fun though. Alpe dhuez isn’t quite as hard as I thought it would be but with 100miles in the legs it’s still a case of grinding it out.

10.30 far too slow but was drained by the end

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Thanks! How was your end-time?

Just over the 9hr mark.

I had the same question going into my first Marmotte this year and used BestBikeSplit to get a rough idea of what a pacing strategy might look like. I almost did as well as planned so it seemed reasonable, with an IF of ~0.75.

I was hoping to maintain ~230W up each of the climbs and be somewhere around ~200W in the Maurienne valley. Ran into an issue with that plan: the altitude on the Galibier had a much greater effect than I expected which resulted in a lower cadence and over-reliance on muscle strength, which then brought on cramps later on in the Alpe d’Huez where I had a complete cramp-related meltdown. Had to stop every few hundred meters to let the cramps go away.

If I were to re-do, I would take it easier on the Telegraphe, such as to save some for the Galibier.

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Thanks for the info. I want to do the Marmotte by myself in a week or so and this is helpful. However, I’ll be there for 9 days and don’t want to kill myself just on this ride. How you felt the following day? Did you do any other rides in the French Alps? Any other tips you might have? Thanks!

I got through - allthough it was a very tough day. I’d struggled with cramps down from Galibier, where i tried to come back on the bike for, who know how long. I finally did finish - in 8t11m.

I really need to focus on those cramps, i get em often. I did intake alot of water and energy - maybe i need some sodium concentraded? I dont know. I did take elektrolytes alot too.

And a lower gear! I did 34-28 with lowest, and weight is 80kgs, så pretty low cadance, which im not used too.

I rode up to LaMarmotte Col Du Solude (Cool climb) and Croix de la fer. Do Col du Ornon too

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Depends on your level of fitness, gearing and/or how you ride it. I was in survival mode by the end, just trying to finish Alpe d’Huez. I had been going all-out up until then and ended up fighting through full-on leg cramps. Since then, I have done one long ride (120km) but legs still hurt. I would not plan on doing anything steep as legs have not recovered. I could see myself do something more serious within 7 days of La Marmotte, but would not plan on any PRs.

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I had a 34x32 for this, but wished I had a 34 in the back because I was being forced into 260W territory (95% of FTP) too many times and for too long in order to maintain an easy cadence (>70RPM).

You discouraged me a little there. I could have mentioned my fitness - I am 64 kg, FTP just above 300 W and 6 week average is around 800 TSS. I would like to ride the whole route but I am there for 9 days and don’t want to kill myself just on this one. My rough plan would net me 400 TSS. I am afraid it is still a lot even with an easier week going into it.

I would gladly take your gearing. But my 36x28 will have to suffice. Thanks for all the info!

I did the Marmotte route by myself in 2017. I arrived in Bourg on the Sunday, got the bike set up and went for an evening ride out to the dam at the foot of the Croix der Crux Der Fer then came back via the Pas de la Confession and then finished off Alpe du Huez, this was to stretch the legs out after a day travelling.

The next day I did the Marmotte, take it super easy up to the Glandon, the valley ride after that to the Telegraph is tough on your own, I had something to eat at the cafe at the summit of the Telegraph, but in hindsight I should’ve eaten more by then. The Galibier is a brutal drag, remember to allow for the elevation, my FTP was around 295 at the time, but anything over 250w was super hard up there.

It’s worth topping up on fluid and gels when you get back to Bourg, I stopped to change my shorts before heading up the Alpe, it was 40c when I rode it and the sections that are next to the rock face are very hot after a day baking in the sun, hence the tip to get your fluids topped up, it’s going to take at least an hour I’d say by the time you start it (unless you’re an absolute beast) so you’ll need food and drink.

Next day, I rode up to La Berade and back, absolutely stunning ride, fairly easy up and almost 20 miles descending back down, cafe stop at La Berade. Well worth it, it’s absolutely beautiful and a great way to spin the hard miles from the day before out of your legs.

Your gearing should be fine - i just did la marmotte with 36-28 and im about 80 kgs :slight_smile: Allthough i would have wished for more gearing. My FTP is 300 my self

Thanks @Greased_Flea! I hoped you would write. I saw your post in the French Alps topic and also checked out your strava (it’s locked :slightly_smiling_face:). Seems like you managed fine afterwards. Certainly, one easier day afterwards is needed and La Berarde is on my list as well. I might do the Alpe d’Huez full gas in the first or second day and do the La Marmotte either next day or push it before rest day depends how the legs will be. Thanks again!

@Mbonde Cheers! Yeah, easier gears would be nice but will manage I guess. After a couple of days I will move to Chambery area and there is a little bit different beast - Mont du Chat. That will be fun!

I was completely cooked just doing Glandon and coming back over Croix de Fer last month, which is just over 2/3 of marmotte elevation. Likely went too hard up Glandon at 80% and started a bit later than I should have on hot day. With all the coasting avg power was stupidly low but still hard as hell ride for me.

I’m around 3.6w/kg at 260ish ftp and had 34x34. Heat and water was an issue coming up first half of Croix de Fer from Savoie - nothing along way for quite a while.

Maybe in another year will attempt Marmotte if well rested - which I wasn’t for this.

Ditto on the la berarde recommendation. We stayed up in St. Christophe - beautiful area and ride that I did a couple times!

I wouldn’t be discouraged necessarily…

I was there for 7 days last August and rode the same route, but minus Alpe d’huez, on day 2 of the trip. This was after an 80 mile day on day 1 which went over the Glandon and back over the Croix de Fer. Day 3 was a 50 mile loop taking in the Izoard, followed by a rest day and then a couple more days of riding.

I was around 66-67kg and 270ish FTP (so significantly less fit than you!) and had a 34-30 easiest gear.

Admittedly, my legs were quite sore at the start of each day! But I’d have thought with your level of fitness and weight, you should be able to make the most of your time and enjoy yourself, just keep it steady and sensible!

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Thanks for the encouragement and comparison!

How did you like Izoard? Did you drive over to Briancon? I wanted to do the Col de Granon from Le Bourg. But perhaps I could start in Briancon, do the Izoard and if feeling good do the Granon afterwards.

Did any of you do some hiking in the Ecrins? Nothing hard, just something to keep my girlfriend happy as well :wink: I know the lake Lauvitel is popular. And from the end of the road at La Berarde there should be some trails as well. But further tips are welcome!