La Marmotte 2023

The heat truly was something else, and nothing that I could prepare myself for. I know garmins tend to overread, but my 1040 was reading 43c in the valley bit before the Galibier.

Some lady on the Alp poured ice cold water down my back at about bend 4 and let me tell you, it was absolutely amazing lol.

Our bikes and cases didn’t arrive in Manchester this morning, even after we were stuck in brussles delayed for 2 hours. Never flying Brussles airline again, they delayed our bags twice now, 100% failure rate.


Congrats everyone for a great effort! I counted myself lucky to finish and make the time cuts. My rear shifting cable broke while in the Maurienne valley. I thought for sure this would be a DNF but surprisingly and fortunately there was an open bike mechanic just before the start of the Telegraph. He was able to fix it and get me on the road again with about an hour delay. Made it up to the Galibier in the last minute before cutoff! Overall my pacing was too conservative, and I need to find a way to replenish my sodium better (cramps on the Alpe). Just a good reason to do this again!


(Apologies for the essay)

My day started out well. Probably went a bit hard tot he top of the CDF looking back but stuck with it. Mollard was OK and I really enjoyed the descent through all the hairpins. I had to push on a flat section to get into a group that I could see up the road as I was in a ‘no-mans’ land at the time and thought it would be better to invest a little to bridge the gap and then sit with the group up the Telegraph

At the top of the Telegraph the problems started. I don’t usually suffer with cramp bu t had a twinge when getting off for fluids before the Galibier. I thought “no, not now, just get over the Galibier”. About a mile and half from the top, everything started twinging, adducters, quads, hammies. It was pergoatory. I really didn’t think I’d finish but decided to see how far I could go. In for a penny and all that. I had to stop a few times before the descent started.

On the downhill, I was shovelling gels/food/drink in as quick as I could to try and rectify the damage, it seemed to work until a few miles before the tunnels. My left leg cramped again so I had to unclip it whilst rolling along, it was stuck out at about 45 degrees and may as well been made of wood. “One last climb, come on lad, get up there”.

The Alpe was next, just 21 corners to go. After about 4 bends, I had to stop, I was melting, legs were hanging in there but the heat up the final climb was mental. People were sat in the water pools on the side of the mountain, showering in cold water, riding up the wrond side of the road just to find shade, it was roasting. After stopping another half a dozen times, the road flattened off and the end was in sight.

I managed a sprint over the line just for giggles, and I’ve never been so happy to get off my bike, it was with out doubt, the toughest day on two wheels I’ve ever done.

Finish time was 8.04 which I’m really pleased with as at one point, I thought finishing wasn’t even an option.

Congrats to everyone who did it whatever the time.


Similar to myself except I got the hunger knock. Was destroyed on Galibier and rammed energy bars in as quick as I could.

Felt so bad thoughts turned to Alpe Duez and wondered how I would get up in this condition :rofl:.

Absolutely brutal but brilliant. Race time didn’t matter anymore, just get over the line.

Of our group of four, one ended up in ambulance with cramps. The other vomitted and got diarrhoea.

The last severe cramp and walked portions of Alpe Duez.

These are all seasoned cyclists in good shape.


So the original Marmotte left me feeling disappointed and despite saying ‘never again’ I’ve signed up for Marmotte Tour des Stations in Switzerland to hopefully do a bit better :crazy_face::crossed_fingers:t2:


I’m doing that as one of my main events for the year. I have no clear time goal just seeing how it goes. If it goes well I may do the ultra Fondo next year :sweat_smile::joy:

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You’ve just given me flashbacks to being sat at the final feed at the bottom of the Alpe thinking how the F am i going to get my sorry state up that monster :sweat_smile:

I know i said to myself about halfway through “Never again am i doing this”, about 15 mins after i finished and those feel good chemicals flooded my brain, I’ve decided i’m doing it again next year although with lessons learnt and fitting a 11-32 :see_no_evil:

Bike & case made it back to my house yesterday, forgot how salty and covered in suncream the bike was lol. my kit could have walked itself out of my case :sweat_smile:


Had the same thoughts going up the Alpe. Thinking this is really special but i’m never doing this again. But actually, all i have been thinking about is how i could improve next time. That definitely won’t be next year, maybe not even the year after but absolutely within the next 5 years.

ps: if your bike can handle it. Go with a 34 if you’re anything like me and like to spin up mountains.


One of my memories of the 2013 edition was the many folk walking up the first inclines before we had even got to a HC climb. The amount of folk walking just got more and more when we did. When I got to the Alpe Du Huez. There was a voice in the back of my head telling me its OK to stop and stretch (Id done it in a oner the day before). When I did so I had one almighty cramp on the inside of my thigh. Thats the last time I can remember cramping on the bike. I too became a walker for a corner of two until I walked off the cramps :joy:

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The better half allows me one trip away, would be hard beat the marmotte as a challenge / experience. Tempted to sign up again :grinning:

I naively had a 53/39 and 11-30 thinking it would be ok given I’d ridden the martatona with that twiece. My hips, glutes and wrists felt like someone had taken an iron bar to them by the Galibier summit!

Amazing how I felt so good cresting the Telegraph and was reduced to a grinding mess half way up Galibier :grinning:

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Feel like i’ve got unfinished business so deffo want to sign up again!

I’ve never riden 53/39 so can’t imagine what it’s like, but I know for sure I deffo don’t want to be on that next time :sweat_smile:

Ahhh, so it was mid Galibier where yours went a bit pete tong! I started to feel it as soon as I got onto the Telegraphe - This meme came to mind :sweat_smile:



(Not sure how to multi quote hence multiple posts - please someone let me know if it’s obvious lol)

Sadly my rear mech will only take a 32. I could possibly get away with a 34 but until i bought it and tried messing with the b screw i wouldn’t know!

On the PC to multiqoute you just highlight each post and it comes up ‘Quote’; if you are using an app I think its the same but its easier for me with a mouse :+1:

I think I had a 34/50 with an 11-29 cassette fitted and I was glad I can remember the 39/53 (11-25) was a right drag up Scotlands Alpe Du Huez (the Cairngorm) at the end of the Cairngorm 100 up the real Alpe it would have been :scream:

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I wasn’t going for a time, only to finish and make the cut-offs, so planned to take it as low-power as possible most of the ride. Running a small chainring of 34 and 11-36 cassette - the best ratio I can get on my bike - made spinning up hills as easy as can be.

In my naivety I thought Galibier wasn’t much climb beyond the top of Telegraphe so, feeling good, pushed quite hard up the second half of Telegraphe… only to discover the terrible truth after the descent to Valloire :unamused:

I super-fed myself gels in the run up to AdH but that wall of heat was too much. After the first 3 corners I had a (not unwelcome) deflated rear tyre, and after pumping that I think I stopped to drink and cool down 5 or 6 more times. Friends said garmins were registering 42-43 degrees on AdH. I remember thinking on the grind up what a great ride it had been but that I’ll only ever do it again on an e-bike… but by the time I finished I was already looking forward to doing it again (next year, I hope), but fitter, lighter and faster. I did 10:18 I think but could have optimised a lot by not stopping for chats, having my breaks in the neutralized zones. Also I found the descents too much fun to not power through the neutralized zones.


So here’s a little report about my La Marmotte.

Was allowed to take place in the 1st “competition” section of about 400 riders at 7 o’clock in the morning. Luckily we got there in good time and we were about position 30.

First up Croix de Fer, the plan was to drive up there nice and quiet, but somehow that doesn’t really work. I had 34x28 as the smallest and I soon sat on it and kept driving a bit faster than I liked. The fact that everyone passed me by didn’t help either. Arrived at the 1st village even more caught my own rhythm. After the reservoir comes a bit of descent for the last part from Glandon to top CdF. I got into my rhythm there and started to overtake riders again. Time stood still on top of the CdF, so i took the time to piss, fill water bottles, eat a snack and continue. Calm down the descent because there was nothing to gain anyway. Col du Mollard went well, although you noticed that it was starting to get warm… the end was quite irregular, but it was still possible to keep driving. I did notice that there were already a lot of cramps there. Probably all started too hard. The descent was neutralized again and just before the time started again I saw a person next to a car waiting with water bottles. Stopped and asked for water. With that the bottles are filled. That would save me a stop later. Every hour a 1-2 gel went in and had 80 grams of carbs in the bottles. That went pretty well and my stomach kept everything inside well.

After the descent of the Mollard we had to go through the valley for 15km. There were 2 riders in front of me that I couldn’t just ride to, so I looked back to see what happened, there was a nice group with about 15 riders and after a couple of seconds, they already passed. That worked out well and before we knew it we were at the foot of the Telegraph. During that climb I noticed that things started to get better and better. I started picking up more and more riders, while I didn’t run over myself.

On top of Telegraph passed the aid station and went straight to Valloire. There a little longer off the bike, piss, drink, put in a gel and continue. Oh yes, also stretched the back, because it was starting to get a bit stiff. Then my worst moment of the day on the Galibier, on that long straight “runner” towards Plan Lachat. I just couldn’t get into it, was just grinding on the slightest gear and really thought, fuck that Alp and go straight back to our apartment. :smiley:

After Plan Lachat you turn right over a bridge and the Galibier actually really starts and amazingly it really started to get better there. Apparently at 66kg I have more of an advantage when it goes towards 9-10%, so started overtaking riders again. The power did go down considerably, but that was probably due to the altitude. I also had that experience in the dolomites above 2000m. Filled bottles again just before the top at the care and continued immediately.

The descent of the Galibier runs wonderfully and after Lautaret I saw a group ahead of me, but you don’t drive there on your own. At the back came 2 riders who really flew down like a comet, picked up there and rode to the group. We were now again with about 15 riders, 5 worked very well together and head over head we drove to the foot of the Alp.

The first corners of the Alp went well, but after that I got a bit over the boil. I got short off the bike and at the water point I got a bowl of water over me. After Huez it started to turn nicely again and finally came up in 1h13. Good for a net time of 7h46.

I am perhaps most satisfied with the fact that I did not get a cramp, that was different at the GF Schleck June 4, so I was a bit afraid of that. Next time I want a lighter gear than 34x28, because with 60-70 rpm it was grinding on the Galibier and Alp. :slight_smile:


Thats the Marmotte boys!! And then crossing the line saying, never again. The next day you already make plans for next year ;-).
I am doing the Otztaler next week. Two years ago my strava post was: “been there done that”…and yet, we are there again. And I am sure on the last monster climb I will say to myself…WTF am I doing here :slight_smile:


2024 thread here :slight_smile:

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@stino77 Let us know how the Otztaler goes. How it compares to Marmotte? I wouldn’t imagine it would much more difficult? Always wanted to do it but September put me off as weather could be rubbish. Is the July date permanent or just changed this year?

Indeed, normally it is at the end of August. So why they changed this, no idea. About the race, It went ok. Got my goal within 10seconds and finished in 9h59.50 so… ;-). (ride time 9.41) Must be happy. But due to the warm weather it was another hard edition. The first part of the Timmelsjoch was mentally brutal.

About Marmotte vs Otztaler? Otzatler is normally seen as the hardest cyclo. If I use my own expieriences…In Otztaler I ride 1h30 longer so, this has an impact. Also, Alpe d’huez is 13k? Timmelsjoch is 28k! That is almost double. So when you are crushed before this climb, it could be a veryyyyy long climb. But in general, how hard it is, it depends also on other factors as form, fueling, weather, goal, …
But both are hard races. Alpe d’huez is no joke in La Marmotte. But Timmelsjoch, yeah man…that is 2h30 of climbing…
Also the level of the participants in the Otztaler is higher then in Marmotte.

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The Oetztaler looks just super Brutal, the Timmelsjoch seems to be a monster, at least there seem to be some steps in there… Considering the Altitude of nearly 2500m that climb could really break you if you went a bit to hard in the beginning.

There are various hard cyclos in the alps and I think each of them have their own challenges. Looking at the 2 I’m doing this year the Tour de Stations is a bit easier then the Marmotte (145km 4800m), but has some really nasty climbs like Thyon 2000 and Coix de Coeur in it and August in Valais means it can easily get really hot. The alpenbrevet is 200km and 5000+m, but the climbs aren’t as steep for the most part, on the other hand they are loooong and High altitude with, The Nufenen is 23k at 5.7% but the 40k before are already a Drag up the valley. Being at the beginning of September temperatures should be better but it also can be pretty cold and rainy…
Honestly I would like to do them all at one point and include the Maratona into that and then there are interesting ones like Alpenchallenge, Engadiner Radmarathon, Schwarzwald super and so on.