Alpe d’Huez Assault Part Five: It’s All About The Bike

Christmas comes early for Team 33Shake… in Leatherhead. Warren Pole reports


On the same day British Cycling launched its big push to get a million more women into the sport (more here), Team 33Shake did their bit by adding three to the ranks. Only 999,997 left to go then…


Because it was that very morning that we all leapt into the 33Shake van and headed for the delights of Leatherhead, just outside the M25. The excitement was palpable, which you can’t normally say of the average trip to Leatherhead. Thing was, this one was to Specialized UK’s HQ to collect a brace of Dolce race bikes for the team.

As the most seasoned team member, Erica already has a Dolce herself since realising how slow an old mountain bike had really been when she borrowed one for her first (and to date, only) sprint tri last year.

“I’d been hoping my bike would be my secret weapon to beat you guys, but now you’re both getting the same bikes we’re all on a level playing field,” Erica confided slightly glumly to the others as we drove.

For many, the idea of ascending Alpe d’Huez triggers an immediate reach into the wallet as a quest for lightness (carbon, carbon, and more carbon) meets the search for perfect gearing, riding position and kit. Surely such a fabled climb needs – demands even – several thousand pounds of bristling rolling magic?

Well, not really because in truth, any sound road bike will do the trick. Day trippers manage the climb on hired mountain bikes after all, and although many do look like they’re about to pass out, this is usually due to them being, well, shall we just say, not particularly conditioned.

Slash the weight with a stock entry-level road bike that both fits and is in sweet working order, and as long as there are a few gears to play with and air in the tyres that’s all that matters. The rest is down to the rider. As long as the hours have gone in here, any quest for a successful first-time assault at a serious triathlon is ready to rumble. Throw the money at the bike once you’ve discovered where your personal limits really are physically, not before.

A point made instantly obvious as a beaming threesome took to the tarmac surrounding Specialized’s offices on their new steeds. It was a revelation.

“It’s so light,” said Anya rolling past.

“I can’t believe it,” said Giovanna as she pulled up. “I feel like I barely need to pedal”.

This last statement may of course be qualified as soon as we hit the Surrey Hills in the coming weeks to introduce the team to the delights of long road climbs where pedaling will most definitely be on the menu, but there was no doubt that Team 33Shake made a great leap forwards this week both in terms of equipment and the all-important cocktail of motivation and dedication so a big thanks to Specialized for their help. Now it’s time to put some serious miles under those wheels.


Team 33Shake is naturally fuelled to perfection by 33Shake, 100% natural superfood sports nutrition (, with additional thanks to Specialized bikes (