Monday, June 27, 2011
Col du Télégraph / Col Du Galibier/Col du Lautaret June 26 2011
It was off to a great start this morning as we had a 43 kms down hill to the turn off for the first climb. It was really a bunch of fun sailing along on a nice gentle down hill. Juerg and I were down to the turn off in record time so we had time for a coffee and a pastry before we tackled the first climb up to Col du Télégraph.
It was only 12 kms up to the summit, however it didn’t make it any less steep. There are little mileage posts at the start of each kilometre giving the distance to the top and the steepness of the climb. They help to distract you from how hard it is when you can see the kilometres tracking down. Lunch was at the top of the Col du Télégraph. It was a beautiful spot. The French army was on patrol with their armoured vehicles when we were there. They tried to surrender but I wasn’t taking any prisoners.
After lunch came the big climb of the day up to the summit of Col du Galibier. It is at 2646 meters and was a 21 km climb. The first few kms are pretty easy but the hill gets steeper pretty quickly and there are lots of 8% kms of sign posts. This is one of the lesser known Col’s but is definitely one of the most beautiful we have climbed so far. I was struck by the beauty of the mountains surrounding me. You wind though a big open valley and then when you get to the end of the valley you start the switch backs. It took me the best part of 3 hours to get to the top, but it was worth it.
Coming down the back side was a high speed rush. Down the switch backs which I find challenging, though a bunch of tunnels, snow sheds, and though several tiny villages. The wild flowers were really putting on a show and the fragrance from them was very intense. I had stopped to photograph them, when Richard came up unseen in his van, He skidded to a stop in the gravel be side the road, blowing his horn. It scared the heck out of me.
Juerg and I were about 8 kms out of camp when one of the hot bike teams which are here because of the Tour du France came screaming past, in a big pace line. Juuerg said “Lets run them down” Here we are stopped and they are flying and 500m in front of us. I didn’t think there was a hope but I started to roll and jumped hard on the pedals. A km down the road they are much closer. Juerg took over and closed some more. My turn and now we are seriously gaining on them. With a km to go we are riding their wheel, and laughing.
Sunny days on the bike are great