With a 7 timed stages and a daily average of 110km, don’t be fooled by this distance. This is no Beach Road ride. With 2-3 categorised climbs per day and five summit finishes, this is a serious week of riding. If you want a relaxing vacation in Europe, forget about this. If you want an intense experience of highs and lows that you’ll remember for a lifetime, this might be what you’re looking for.

• Stage 1: Sunday 19th August: Geneva – Megève (120km, 2700m+)
• Stage 2: Monday 20th August: Megève – Courchevel (105km, 2700 m+)
• Stage 3: Tuesday 21st August: Courchevel – Alpe d’Huez (136km, 4700 m+)
• Stage 4: Wednesday 22nd August: Alpe d’Huez Time Trial (15km, 1100 m+)
• Stage 5: Thursday 23rd August: Alpe d’Huez – Risoul (136km, 3700 m+)
• Stage 6: Friday 24th August: Risoul – Auron (98km, 3200 m+)
• Stage 7: Saturday 25th August: Auron – Nice (171km, 2900 m+)

I have no idea what to expect from myself except that this will be extremely tough. But no feeling of satisfaction as gratifying as this ever comes easily. It’s not a traditional style of race, it’s definitely not a leisurely ride, but an extreme challenge in-between. It’s the closest that most of us will ever get to riding a Grand Tour. A Gran Fondo with a General Classification. It’s limited to 500 participants and the entry fee is €1200 (click here to see what’s included).

I’ve been invited as a guest of Two Wheel Tours to do this even and there’s three spots left that need to be filled. If you’re feeling spontanious and want to join along, contact Will Levi and he’ll cut you a good deal. If you want to read more about Will’s experience riding Haute Route last year, click here (part 1, 2, 3 (pdf)).

I’m looking forward to riding this spectacular event (note I said “riding” and not “racing”. After 6 weeks off the bike and eating gas station food at the Tour I’ll be doing my best just to survive!). Formula One legend Alain Prost will also be participating so I’m really looking forward to meeting him if I can hold his wheel!

2011 Haute Route Photos