At last, it's time for the final part of Garret Connolly's opus detailing the 2014 Marmotte. 16 Orwell members tackled it, which is coincidentally nearly the number of pages in Garret's piece. We've published the first part and second part, as well as the third part. Now enjoy the last days!

The 2014 Marmotte Story - Part IV

Garret Connolly


The Day After: Sunday

Mission Accomplished

The day after a wedding is often more fun that the day itself. I think I preferred the day after the Marmotte too! Lunch with Dan Coulcher after he completed day after time trial up the Alpe, a quick walk about town for souvenirs, then let's find a pub to watch the Tour de France and Wimbledon! The pints flowed, the toasted sambos arrived and were devoured, the burgers and chips went down great! We watched the huge crowds on the Yorkshire roads embrace the Tour and then Federer's comeback in the final falling just short. A good crowd had gathered in the Scottish pub in the middle of the town and the craic was good. I lasted until around 11:00pm until eventually my body gave up and I had to hit the sack. A lovely day was spent doing all the things we had starved ourselves of for weeks before the Marmotte!

9 hours well spent together?? Myself and Barry

The Aftermath

Travelling back from Alpe, a few of us asked the inevitable question... What now? After spending around seven months training for the Marmotte, it was hard to imagine life without it in the distance... Every weekend since January has centred around a training spin of some kind or another; from short to long, from high cadence to low cadence, from flat to hills... and then more hills, from 9 Peaks to Billy's 12 Peaks... The hangover from the Marmotte seemed to last for days. I think when you do such a hard cycle that your dopamine and endorphin levels hit rock bottom and you literally feel drained for a week. I recommend a holiday for anyone after it. I took off to Mayo, did the Greenway, drank pints in Westport, sang songs in Achill and sailed to Clare Island in the days after and it was exactly what the doctor ordered. For those of the group who headed back to work, I could only imagine how tough it was to get the energy and motivation going. For this, you too, get a Chapeau!

The Orwell Crew: The dress rehearsal looking cool with our free sunglasses

The Aftermath…not looking so spritely as before!

Me, Garret Connolly: Normal winters involve drinking, smoking, sleeping little and living the 'Rolling Stones Winter Training Regime'. Not so much during the winter of 2013-2014 though! The hardest thing I've done so far, but I loved every minute of it!

David Hendron: Best known for being the brother of a World Champion. Also known as one of the founders of the “lets do the Marmotte thing that Billy did” gang. Also the winner of the much sought after Orwell Marmotte Weight Loss Extravaganza...

Tom Weymes: An inspiration to humanity! 73 years of age and still climbing up the Alps! He is also the stereotypical grumpy old man who loves to give out to me and give me grief!

Adrian Farrell: The find of the Year? One hell of a cyclist who seemed to come from nowhere, and kicked everyone's ass in the W200. A returning gold medal man in 2017?

Barry O'Donnell: From Paddy Power. The man who tried to give us odds on getting a puncture (he said it is good to De-Risk yourself!!) In London he would be known as real dodgy geeza. Much more importantly, he was my climbing buddy for nine hours on the day! The official winner of the Orwell Marmotte 2014 for 36 hours... until the computer realised it's error!

Grainne Coughlin: One of our Mi-Marmotte legends. Officially the first person up the Alpe on the Saturday from Orwell! Along with Lou, they felt like our hosts for the week.

Louise Keane: A legend of an Orwell women. Her singing while she climbs past the lads on the hills, is now legendary. Best known for being the Cover Girl of Fit Magazine in last month's Indo.

Sinead Kennedy: 'Yoga for Cyclists' teacher extraordinaire! A champion who was inspired by a tortoise and finished with a smile (I think it was a smile). James O'Callaghan: Best known for causing all of us pain on our training spins whenever he went to the front. A beast of a man on the bike.

Colm Egan: The incredible shrinking man. An inspiration to anyone who gets on a bike and just goes for the W200 for the craic. Then says Marmotte? Why not? Also one of the founders of the “lets do the Marmotte thing that Billy did” gang.

Pat Fitzpatrick: A warrior cyclist! Trying to follow him charging up the Featherbeds is a lactic acid dream come true! As strong as an ox! Derek Hanly: The man who crashed, came back, crashed again, lost lots of time training, but still finished the Marmotte! A truly incredible performance by Del Boy.

Diarmuid Donnelly: Still, none of us believe he is in his 50s! We reckon he's 35 and said 50 to get an easier gold medal target time! And he almost got it! Best performance of the Orwell crew in their age category. He was there from the very beginning of this craziness and it was an honour to spend the last seven months on the bike with him.

Paul Perry: Orwell's very own future nobel poet laureate and currently one of Ireland's bestsellers! If you haven't read it grab it now! Under a pseudonym, but it's definitely him! His next novel will centre around cramps in both legs on the Telegraph :-)

Gerry O'Connor: Fears dogs so much he crashed into one a few weeks before the Marmotte! He is such a battler that he came back when many would've given up and led the charge up the hills of the Alps. Also starred in the Irish Independent, Fit Magazine article about our Marmotte challenge! Have a gander at the article here.

Our photo from the Irish Independent article set up by Sinead Kennedy with super subs Gerry, Rodney and Aga

The 'Stars of the Marmotte' award goes to...

Dan Coulcher and family! Instead of relaxing on a nice family holiday beside the pool in Bourg d'Oisons, Dan and his family stood at the foot of Alpe d'Huez, waiting for us all with bottles of coke, words of encouragement and even a push on the saddle as we remount to tackle bend 1. He got his timing slightly wrong and ended up at the spot for 2 hours before myself and Barry got even close! He later admitted that his daughter had asked him: “Daddy, are you sure your friends are in the race? 'Cause they are really, really slow!” He waited until the last of Orwell cyclists passed him – five hours in the baking hot sun to make sure we all got a good start to the hill. For this, we salute him for his incredible camaraderie for his club mates. Chapeau to the whole Coulcher family!

Never been so happy to see an Orwell member! Dan Coulcher and family showing what club camaraderie is all about...chapeau

'Hero of the Marmotte' award goes to...

Tom Weymes! Who else? Everyone said not to do the Alpe in that heat, 48 hours before the Marmotte. Tom said get out of my way and stop talking nonsense! He liked it so much in the 35 degree heat on Thursday, he did it again on the Saturday!

Proof that Tom Weymes anti-H20 campaign has shaky foundations!

Also starring:

Fintan Moore and James Magann who went to the Marmotte with other tour companies and flew up all the hills. James is a new member and a great addition to the club. Fintan is an Orwell vet of the 9/10/12 peak craziness caused by Billy Parker! Our Training Partners:

A special thanks have to go out to Helen Horan, Ian Cullen, Joe Chester, Rodney Phelan and Gerry Coffey who did nearly all of our Marmotte training with us just for the craic! (What is wrong with these people?!?)

More than anyone else, it was Billy Parker who inspired us all with his brilliant story of one man's battle against dehydration, blindness and an elevated heart rate in his 2013 Marmotte battle. Not only did Billy write the story that inspired us all to actually do La Grande Marmotte, he joined us for most of the training spins as well! He caused a near civil war as we tried to outdo each other on the number of peak we could fit in, on a spin around Wicklow! (The current record is 12, we share the title. Take on the challenge fellow Orwellians!).

The early days of Marmotte Training with Scott....1st time(of many) we climbed the Featherbeds

Also special thanks:

For the tales, stories and legends retold by Denis Gleeson, John Twomey, John Lanigan, not so big anymore John Hannin, Stephen Haydon, Dan Coulcher and many, many others! It meant so much to us and you were all a true inspiration. The original Marmotters! The club and committee have been a huge help to us - sponsoring 50% of training costs with Scott Fitness and lending us the team car for the W200 and the TKAS in Tralee. Stephen Ryan, in particular, deserves a huge thanks for all his work on the leisure side of the club. Most would run a mile from the thought of following the amazing work done by Denis and John T. over the last few years, but not Stephen. He's taken on the huge workload with gusto and enthusiasm. His work formulating and putting into practice the inaugural Orwell Leisure Sportif Championship has brought a new lease of life to the this side of the club. All of the Marmotters used the diary of events Stephen put together as our training plan for the event and without it, our challenge would have been so much harder. For this we tip our hats and say Chapeau Mr. Ryan!

And not forgetting:

All the phone-calls, texts, emails, Facebook messages and tweets before and after the event from friends, family and especially Orwell members were vital and hugely appreciated by us all. It was brilliant to read the support messages from back home.

Would I recommend others to do it?

Why not? Every one of us came from a background of, at best, average athletic ability. None of us are from the elite of the cycling world and a few years ago we decided to jump on a bike and go for it. Absolutely anyone who is able to complete a Wicklow 200, Ring of Kerry or Orwell Randonnée is capable of doing the Marmotte. All you need is the right willpower, time to train and the willingness to put in place a training plan in late 2014, with a view to doing it next July. Get out of your comfort zone and just do it! It's one of life's great bucket-list moments. You'll never regret it...

Would I do it again?

I'd love to. I would learn from this year's good and bad points from my own particular day. I'd probably wait until I'm 40 in three years, as the gold medal target time then becomes achievable.

I don't think I could have picked a better bunch of guys and gals to train with and to spend a week with on the top of a mountain! It was a life-changing trip that we'll always remember. I would love to do it again, but even to reunite the sixteen of us in years to come up to climb the Alpe would be a dream come true!

If you've read this far down this lengthy article, it shows you have the endurance and patience to do anything in life, so the Marmotte will be a walk in the park for you... best of luck to all doing it next year... Chapeau!

Sinead, Louise and Teddy

Now, what to sign up to for next year?