Virtual Haute Route Stage 2

15.8 miles, 3,835 ft of climbing


Morning arrived too soon for stage two. It was still dark at staging on the docks of Watopia and tensions were high.  We all knew that today’s mountain top finish would be a battle royalé. The course: Alpe du Zwift – a virtual simulation of Alpe du Huez complete with 22 switchbacks. We knew we’d all be digging deep, fighting our own demons and pushing through the pain.

The first few miles allowed us to shake out the legs from yesterday’s effort but a rapidly rising sun quickly put a spotlight on Watopia’s monument sculptures and the pain that was sure to unfold in the distant but oh so near future.

BAM! Just like that, the gloves came off and attacks flew as the flat roads morphed into 11% grades before our very eyes. Our power output readings skyrocketed as we pushed well over our target numbers.

Short pulls at the front were traded for what seemed like hours. Each switchback served as a reminder to stand up and stretch our backs, take a drink, have a gel, and keep pushing forward.

And then it happened. A rider at the front of our small group began to dance on the pedals putting out over 6 watts/kilo and pulled away. A few of us gave chase and reeled him in, only to see another rider go, and another attack launched. With eight more switchbacks still to come, we exchanged knowing glances, backed off, and set our own tempo.

The radar towers finally appeared, a signal that the finish was less than a mile away. Heads down, we turned the pedals in anger, ignoring the searing back pain.

Across the line at the top we changed into a dry jersey, grabbed a full bottle, and began the descent back down. The chance to flush the legs and enjoy one of the finest open road descents known to cyclists made today’s battle worth every ounce of effort.