Alpe d’Huez assault. Part One.

Can three absolute tri novices conquer one of Europe’s toughest triathlons with just five months preparation? Our new blogger Warren Pole is going to find out...


That, my friends, is the question we will be chewing over and, with any luck, answering with a resounding ‘hell yes!’ right here as we follow the progress of Team 33: three regular girls on the tri challenge of a lifetime as they leap right in at the deep end in their quest for a brace of successful finishes at the Alpe d’Huez triathlon this summer.

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With entries signed and sealed they now have five months to train, practice, drill, stretch and learn. Which sounds like a lot of time, but in reality it’s anything but. Because while all three are in reasonable shape all are complete tri beginners

Only one team member has previous form – Erica Pole, with a half marathon and sprint tri finish in the last three years is the seasoned pro of the side. Even so, she’s never ridden a road bike (the sprint tri was done on an old mountain bike) or learned how to change gear (fortunately the sprint was at Dorney Lake so as flat as a pancake).

The other two, Anya Nora and Giovanna Meire haven’t pedalled since childhood or trained in their lives, let alone swum in a glacial lake, pedalled up one of the Tour de France’s most fearsome climbs and then run around a mountain top against the clock.

Fortunately as both have small children they are however well-versed in endurance, sleep deprivation and mental toughness. With time, dedication, a healthy splosh of sweat, suffering and good guidance, I have no doubt all three make it to a triumphant Alpine finish.

Unfortunately for them the ‘good guidance’ referred to above is being supplied by me, which is where the wheels may rather fall off this jolly escapade.

Having encouraged Erica into signing up for Alpe d’Huez with me this year, I was then bowled over when first she said yes and then, after a girls’ night out, the other two joined the party. As their combined enthusiasm bounced off the walls, volunteering my assistance seemed the only decent thing to do. 

Of course, this has its advantages. Having raced the long course at Alpe d’Huez before as well as plenty of other tris my ego likes to think it’s this wealth of experience they’re all after. But in the cold light of day, we all know it has much more to do with the fact I’m available free of charge.

So, with no experience on either the team side or the coaching side, what could possibly go wrong on this dream shot at European tri glory? Probably everything, but it’s going to make for quite a ride whatever happens.

Oh, one final thing: as everyone concerned here lives in central London we’re as far from the mountains and lakes of the race we’re preparing for as could be. That’s why Team 33’s first ever training session was a bike/run in Hyde Park, on the Olympic course no less, and on Boris bikes – forget fine tuning their kit, none of the girls even own bicycles yet. We’ve got a long way to go, see you in two weeks for the next installment.

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