Parlee Z5 SL Owner review 2.

Not wanting to steal the limelight Joel waited until the Tour was over before hitting the Alps. He wanted to enjoy a few of the iconic stages including have a tilt at Alpe Duez, on his lonesome. He purchased his Z5 SL a few weeks ago with this trip in mind and he is more than satisfied with his choice.

His initial reaction to the bike was “What can I say, this thing is unbelievable. More like a magic carpet than a bicycle. Effortless speed combined with sublime comfort.”

Upon his return he sent us these shots and note below.

“My wife, Natalie and I spent a couple of weeks in early August in the French Alps enjoying the scenery, summer weather, food and cycling (me on the bike and Natalie in the team support car).

We took in some of the more well known climbs often included in the TdF such as col du Telegraphe, col du Galibier and col du Colombiere. As well as some of the lesser known but equally as difficult ones like le Semnoz (a daunting 18km 7.5% brute shadowing Lake Annecy) and col du Forclaz. But one mountain above all others stood out as the target for an all out assault, the storied Alp D’Huez.

The town at the foot of the Alp, Bourg d’Oisans, is about 140kms from where we were staying. The 280 km round trip on the bike through the mountains was far beyond me so it was decided that we’d tackle the Alp fresh after driving to the base. I’ve often heard cyclists say that there are longer and steeper climbs and that Alp D’Huez, at 14kms and 7.8%, is by comparison “not that hard”.

After rounding the first 2 or 3 corners I soon realised that nothing could be further from the truth. The publicised 7.8% average gradient rides much steeper because the hairpin corners are flattish platforms and the straights are ramps up at around the 10% level. The day we chose to attack the climb was hot and still. The steepness of the straights, heat and lack of shade on the road put me into the pain locker almost immediately. The hairpins make it difficult to maintain a comfortable rhythm. Constantly making you push into the red to maintain your speed and momentum.

Whilst scenic in its own way, Alp D’Huez does not offer awe inspiring views. Distraction from the pain must be found within on this climb. Luckily for me we listened to French pop songs on the radio in the car on the drive over. Many of these replayed over and again in my mind keeping me entertained and partially distracted from the pain as I ticked off the 21 bends one by one.

The top section of the climb has 3 different “finish lines” (Vieil Alpe at 12.2 kms – complete with banner) Bourg d’Oisans time trial course at 13.9kms, and the TdF finish at the summit 14.4 kms). After a very difficult hour or so in the saddle I completed the time tral section of the climb in 58:53 and the TdF finish in 1 hour 15 seconds. I’ve already suggested to Natalie a return mission next year!”

No rim heat issues for Joel on the long descents as he took a set of our 1300gram custom wheels on his trip and, as he said to a prospective Parlee customer during the week, “they give very little away to my XXXX carbon clinchers”.

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