Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Haute Route Alps 4 - they don't call them the high alps for nothing

Today was big. I shut off my Garmin before I found my hotel, but just over 170k and 4,338m of climbing. I loved every minute of it.

They don't call these the high Alps for nothing. The scenery is just breathtaking. We are so lucky to have bodies that can do this, planes that bring us here, and a freedom loving country like France that paves all over its mega mountains with velvety roads. 

We started at 7 and although my legs were sore, I knew I had gas in the tank for the day.  I love that feeling. The grades were lower and I think the "placebo" of lusting withy soul for all of what this stage has to offer vs cursing it had me feeling good. 

I chased up to the lead 75 then rode my pace up the Galibier in the early morning sun. That's the way to start a day I tell you. I feel it's at the junction of earth and he heavens. I put on a jacket for the descent and pushed off. It was neutral down to the Telegraphe.  But you don't starve yourself at a buffet right?  There wasn't a spec of sand or gravel on the whole thing, and it turns out coincidentally there weren't any riders wh wanted to pass on the way down ; )

Valoire again had 4x4's galore, maybe I should have used the neutral timing to stop in and chat. We caught the bulk of the front group in a town square in the sun trying to warm themselves up. I was ok to roll on. That was my 2 mins of riding with Bunnin.  

I hadn't filled bottles at the top, so did on the Telegraphe.  I then did my best to chase back on to Tom and his group which took a the whole descent and a few km of TT on the valley floor. The descent was easiest during my time spent behind some guy in a Porsche 911 as his cornering and brake lights led the way. 

Our group of 5 broke up at the base of the Col de la Croix de Fer. I did my own pace and enjoyed the journey. From town past the big Opinel knife monument to the forested section to scaling the cliffs then the rolling sub alpine up to the ski hill, there's a lot you see when you climb for 31km.  That plateau is just magnificent and I love the last few switchbacks at reasonable grades. 

This descent was timed all the way down. I didn't pedal, I just didn't use the brakes excessively. On the steep 3 switchback climb 2/3 of way down I paired up with a British guy.  He stood and hammered it and I just sat and pedalled. Over the top he said he knew the road and to follow him "there's no sharp corners, even the blind ones are basically straight. Follow me". And like a dollar bill, In God We Trust. At the end I thanked him for the roller coaster. That was awesome, and no sane person would ride it that way first time.  Topped out at just below 80k/h, which feels pretty quick when you're trusting the corners are navigable at that speed.

We two man tt'd the flats to the timing stop then soft pedalled to Bourg d'Oisans. I pulled out a ham and cheese sandwich I made at breakfast and washed it down with my bottle refilled from the floral tap in the center of Bourg. Salty ham and cheese is French recovery food. 

We did the ~15k to the Les Deux Alps turn pretty slow, I rode a lot with Jutta the Swiss female racer who's opening up as we ride together.  Guys were blowing buy us with apparently little regard for energy on the last climb. 

The last timed section was up to Les Deux Alps. 9k climb I think. The last refreshment point before the timing was like a bone yard of people lying around. I felt great as I knew the way up there and timed eating well ahead. Guy at aid gave me some coke, and I saved some water to spray on myself. It's a low grade climb and relatively speaking I had power and could hold my head up; some were well crushed by then. 

I found a place next to our hotel that did takeout. The chef salad featured Comte cheese so I had to get that, the French have this knack with fries, and these ones were the saison du maison, and the  shawarma looked too good to pass up.  Probably actually worth their weight in gold at this point. 

Early reports are Trev put in a day of badassery again, that left him "wanting to cry" by the Bourg valley neutral - he made it there in group Pouly. 

I never saw Tom Ebbern after the base of the Croix so I think he powered out a solid day. 

I didn't feel empty all day, and grades were such that I could climb at a pace that worked for me. The Croix de Fer and the Galibier are just so majestic and we had clear skies and sun all day without baking heat.

Strava link:

Random images I poached since I am not carrying camera.


Col de la Croix de Fer

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