Cycling from Heidelberg to Grenoble


Cheque handover

We handed over the cheque at this year's Summer Party on 8 July.
The total amount raised was just over 13k Euros! A super effort by all involved.

Day 5

St-Michel de Cuines - Grenoble

After a late dinner on day 4 we discussed the outline of the next and last day of the ride in the evening. We communicated early on during the organization that day 5 looks tough, but also that the ascent to L’Alpe d’Huez is optional. We planned to all meet in Bourg d’Oisans at the bottom of the climb and go from there to Grenoble together. To do the L’Alpe d’Huez climb you had to arrive latest at 11.30 am in Bourg d’Oisans since we wanted to leave for Grenoble latest at 2 pm. No small feat considering that the Col du Télégraphe and the mighty Col du Galibier need to be climbed before that. As L’Alpe d’Huez is one of the most famous, most reoccurring and epic climbs of the Tour de France many wanted to do it (however, not the most beautiful by far). That is why some started already at 5.00 am. The rest started at 6.00 am.

And it was clear from the start that this day will be hot and demanding. Soon enough we arrived at the start of the 45 km climb to the Galibier via Télégraphe. It started in quite chilly morning temperatures and in the shade of dense forests. At the top we got our breakfast provided by our super hero support crew. Matthias and I, knowing that it would be a very long climb took a short break and rode ahead towards the 2642 m above sea level pass, but we could feel the breath of the incredible trio constantly. The scenery was stunning. Long ascents amidst huge rocks and along a beautiful stream. The legs were already wobbly, when you could see the top far ahead but with still 3 km to go it didn’t look very encouraging as the cars looked very far away and the ramp looked very steep. Indeed, the last km had still 15 % ramps and it was just good to have made it finally. Matthias and I got indeed passed by Henning, José and Harris on the last couple of hundred meters, followed by Almut and Mechthild. Again only a short break before we sped on to make it in time to L’Alpe d’Huez. The descent was breathtaking in many ways, mostly due to the speed and the length. For a change the arms hurt from gripping the handlebar at speeds above 80 km/h and breaking hard before every corner. There was one long tunnel, which felt as if you race with 65 km/h through a refrigerator.

One of us decided going left instead of turning right at the Col du Lautaret. He (the same who dropped the bottle on the first day) raced 30 km down until he reached Briancon, only then realizing that it was the wrong way. So he needed to turn around and climb up the entire Col du Lautaret (another 1000 m climb). Some of us suspect that was on purpose, as the climb is more beautiful than L’Alpe d’Huez. Seven made it in time and climbed quickly L’Alpe d’Huez. At 1.20 pm everyone was down on the parking lot at Bourg d’Oisans and the support crew rewarded us with a last wonderful barbecue in the sun (but luckily with a tent or whatever this thing is called).

The remaining 50-60 km down to Grenoble were fast and easy (mostly downhill) despite a flat tyre and at 4.15 pm the tour ended with a warm welcome by the EMBL Grenoble staff. We again want to thank here the EMBL Grenoble for the buffet with excellent cold beverages.

Despite the broken wrist, which was very sad for Gustavo, we were happy that nothing more happened. The descents were quite dangerous and a flat front tyre in a situation like this is hazardous. So it was a big relief when we all arrived in Grenoble. We had a little party late into the night and in the morning packed the things and went back to Heidelberg. Thanks also to Torsten Schiller who came with a third bus to pick us up. Also on the way back nothing happened.

Thanks to everyone who helped and supported us and thanks for all the donations! Let’s see if something similar will happen next year…

Day 4

In Chamonix this morning we were greeted with a blazing sun and clear blue sky. The Mont Blanc towered above us with all its magnificence and with its glacier glittering in the morning rays.

As the coming stage had “only” 142 km we decided to start a bit later and to meet at 9.00 to fix bikes etc. We started cycling in the end at 9.45 on this wonderful stage. Going from Chamonix to the Savoy Alpes with two smaller climbs in between (still longer and steeper than the Königstuhl), before regrouping at the bottom of the Col de la Madeleine climb. Until that point there was no puncture or any other problems. Everything went very smoothly. We grabbed bananas, cakes etc. to refresh ourselves before embarking on this epic climb, known to be one of the most beautiful ones of the Tour de France.

And indeed this is true. 25 km with an average of 8 % (or so) and many ramps above 10% through amazing terrain with breathtaking views.

But it was torture as well. It was very hot and the sweat was streaming down onto the hot streets (saying it was instantly evaporating when hitting the road would be a bit of an exaggeration…but still). Again, as yesterday, it was Harris, José and Henning who arrived first. In smaller groups or single riders we arrived after another and were all greeted by our wonderful support crew with a barbecue at 2000 m above sea level (other riders were looking quite jealously at us I had the feeling). One of the angels even did the climb herself (Sabine) in a very good time and seemingly without much effort. After all came in and have eaten (altogether a bit more than two hours) we descended without any accident to Sainte Etienne-des-Cuines to the Ibis Budget hotel and looked for something to eat, which was not so easy.

Altogether, it was 142 km. Net riding time 5:42 h (for the top 3). 2800 m climing. Start 9:45, arrival 18.30.

All are in bed now to be rested for the epic and final stage, incl. the Col du Télégraphe, Col du Galibier and L’Alpe d’Huez with altogether 3600 m of climbing and 180 km. We will start at 6.00 am sharp without breakfast (only a power bar and bananas).

More of that tomorrow.

Day 3

Today started cloudy and rainy, but initially it was only a little drizzle, which changed later to a deluge. So the first 2-3 hours were not as pleasant, although we realized again, that cycling can be a great watersport.

We soon decided to make two groups, in order to let cars pass more easily. Both groups got a bit lost, but the faster group arrived soon enough to the first food station and was greeted by the amazing support crew with a most welcome hot noodle soup. Another huge thanks to Mustafa and his angels, which has been increased by one more angel called Gustavo. Despite his broken wing he joined the support crew. There were also delicious lemon cakes and waffles on top of the usual bread and cheese, pickles, coke, isotonic drinks etc. In the meanwhile, more than 120 l of water were consumed, probably 100 bananas or so.

When the first group started to freeze and shake, the second group came in after taking a break in a Café already (which made the first group a bit jealous). There are rumours of funny videos, showing José and Harris not being able to pour sugar into their coffee or even drink it because they were shaking so much from the wet cold.

Before the first stop, the first group got lost and almost went on a motorway, but we found our way back.

We started again, basically again split into two groups and went through beautiful Montreux at Lake Genève, again taking a detour on a small path right at the lake in between palm trees (we’ve been through worse detours), when we got the first flat tyre of the day. After fixing it, the second group almost caught up, so we quickly sped on.

And finally tailwind in the flats. After 2.5 days of heavy headwinds we could go > 40 km/h in the flats constantly, which was a lot of fun, until we got a second flat. That was quickly fixed, the two groups regrouped and we went almost to Martigny but first had a second stop to grab food provided by the Djinn and his four Jeannies, because the first real alpine climb up to Chamonix was ahead of us.

We decided that up to the Col de la Forclaz (1400 m) everyone goes his speed. First another 10 km flat, which was done by the first group at close to 50 km/h (again a lot of fun).

Then no one could follow José, Henning and Harris. Instead of climbing it looked as if they would tear down the entire mountain. Amazing performance after 520 km of riding. The rest came in in several groups or as single riders and we regrouped at the top. A fast descent down and up again the Col de Montres, before going down to Chamonix to the RockyPop Hotel (a bit of a Movie/Old video game theme…very nice place…great job by Sabine booking the accommodations).

After a hearty dinner and a short stay in the magic room 278 we went to bed to be fresh for another epic stage.

No severe injuries, just one little crash, resulting in a elbow rash.

Thanks to the fantastic support crew we've made it to Chamonix despite the horrendous rain today, We've only done 1 of the 4 big climbs we have to do - so we're all getting a bit anxious about tomorrow and Tuesday!!
Strava Data Day 3

Day 2

I can only write you know, because some of the backpacks (incl. my laptop) was in the van who unfortunately had to bring one of us to the hospital in Bern. We had a crash and Gustavo broke his wrist. This is bad, everyone else was lucky, could have been worse.

More positive things. Weather was alright (tomorrow probably not). 178 km, 2060 m climbing, 6:54 h netto riding time, start 8:04 arrival for most at 17:20 or so.

Otherwise, one puncture, two chains went off (embarrassingly one of them was mine after giving advice to another how to switch gears...).

A huge thanks again to our helpers providing us with support and good meals on the road. Today special thanks to Graziella and Sabine who helped Gustavo a lot and late into the evening. They just came back (23:10).
Strava Data Day 2

Day 1

Everyone arrived safely no crashes, despite a bottle dropped in front row already in Wiesloch.

The support team did a superb job with delicacies at three stops (50 km, 120, and 170).

Altogether we did 222 km with netto riding time of 7.54 h, and arrived at the hotel at 19.30. At 20.30 we walked to a steakhouse.

I am not sure about the number of drinks and food we consumed but it was quite a bit, because there was more sun than expected and luckily no rain!

We missed the third stop and needed to go back around 6 km (but with tailwind...otherwise the constant headwind was pretty bad). We thought of continuing, but knowing that grilled sausages and Weissbier waits for us we decided to go back. Afterwards it was easy 😉
Strava Data Day 1

Helping raise money for the Kinderplanet with the EMBL Cycle Challenge

The EMBL Heidelberg’s Bike Club will undertake an epic challenge in 2017 to help raise money for the Kinderplanet in Heidelberg.

From 30 June to 4 July, the group will cycle from EMBL Heidelberg to EMBL Grenoble. Altogether they will cover around 850 km over 5 days, with 14,000m of first class ascents. The route includes climbs made famous by the Tour de France, such as the scenic climb over the Col de la Madeleine and L’Alpe d’Huez. Cyclists will be supported by two supply vans and will be expected to pay for their board and lodging during the challenge. EMBL will sponsor three days of annual leave for the participants.

The Kinderplanet in Heidelberg is a Kindergarten at the children’s hospital that provides support for the families of sick children. The Kindergarten relies solely on donations in order to operate. More information can be found here.

Please help the group raise as much money as possible by donating to the Kinderplanet. Please use the PayPal link below and use BIKE as a reference when you donate.

On the 29th of June there will be a glorious send off and Pasta Party in Heidelberg. More details will follow nearer the event.

Here are the Cycle Routes

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IBAN: DE 3067 2800 5104 6525 1404
IBAN: GB70 COBA 4062 0130 3903 94