Haute Route 2014

It all started in an unlikely setting. I was having this quiet little drink and some bite at sort of an exclusive club with a prominent private equity CEO, when he, with a sound of strong commitment, said “yes, I’ll do it”. No, it wasn’t a deal we were discussing.

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Previously that day I had registered and paid to do the Haute Route Dolomites and Swiss Alps – a cyclosportive we know very little about.  A month earlier I had finished the Haute Route Alps, a sportive covering some 800 km’s and 20 km vertical across the French alps. I’ll tell you a detailed story about that later maybe, but to put really brief, it was just an amazing experience. Some may not think of a week cycling uphill as the ultimate vacation, but that’s what it was for me. And I want to do it again. To ride the Haute Route is one thing, and it can be quite a thrill. But to train for it is another thing, and it isn’t always fun. Thus, there is a number of arguments why you’ll be better off if you don’t have to go through it all alone. I’m lucky enough to have mates who like sports, and lately quite a few of them have picked up cycling.

On that Thursday, I had tried to awaken Haute Route enthusiasm among some of the more potential victims on social media. And when the CEO declared his decision I checked my phone, which told me three others had made up their minds. So now we’re five.

The route for the Haute Route Dolomites / Swiss Alps will not be published until later this fall, but it will follow the same concept as the other Haute Routes: Alps and Pyrenees. That means it will be a seven day, 800+ km route, covering more than 20.000 vertical meters across some legendary and some less known cols east of Geneva. I have done a fair bit of cycling in the Alps but never in the Dolomites or southern Swiss alps. What everyone who’se ever followed professional cycling or read any lists of “toughest cycling climbs” knows, the roads tend the be steeper as you go east. So I’m really looking forward to the famous dolomitian cols, and I do hope the course would tackle the curly roads of Stelvio, as those bends have a special place in my heart. After all, that’s where I for the first time understood what climbing on a bike is – it’s more of a mind game than a physical challenge.

I’m very happy about how I did on the Haute Route Alps this year, but don’t you always think what if you’de be in a bit better shape, or what if you’d weigh a few kilos less? What I do know is that I will be one year older, and I cannot possibly afford to spend more time training. September about to end, and it’s been close to freezing temperatures in Helsinki this week – just the right time  to set targets, and then start planning how to reach them.

Ah, talking to the guys today, they seem to have a pretty good idea what this all will cost: power meter, carbon wheels, maybe an odd new bike, keeping the wife happy etc. What they’re not accounting for is the most expensive part of this journey – getting your entire wardrobe renewed a size or two down from what it has been. That’s Middle Aged Man in Lycra 2.0


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