Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Riding in France, Part 2...

   Once we got back to our Gite it was time to celebrate. Everyone shared there individual story over beers and dinner. Plans were made for the next days "recovery ride". The talk was 80km of flattish roads. We had a delayed start because I had to go to town for brake pads to go with the wheels I was borrowing. Our recovery ride was anything but. It was hot, some of us ran low on fluids, but a stop at the store for water and ice cream made the 61 mile 3100' of climbing day feel better. This would be out last day in Albertville. In the morning we would be riding to our next hotel.

  The day would see us tackling the Col de Madelaine and the Col du Grand Cucheron. With our final destination in Allevard. The Madelaine was one of the most scenic climbs, though it was not easy. The climbs are marked  every kilometer counting down and giving you the gradient for the next km. When I saw 9% then 10% and another 10%, it was a relief to 6%. That's when you know you are not in Delaware anymore.
It was yet another hot day but there was a nice lunch to be had before the descent.
After lunch it was a 20k descent followed by 20k of flat before the last climb.
 By the time we hit the last climb it was really hot, and it seemed to take its toll on a lot of us. I was hurting, but managed to recover a bit before the end. On our roll in to town we hit a detour. They were tar and chipping the road. The detour entailed back tracking a half a km, then a short steep climb followed by some rollers and down a very rustic road to put us back on track.
   The hotel was nice, the food was great, and it was still Hot, with no A/C, but the next day was going to be Awesome. We had a nice 80km ride to Alpes D Huez. We stopped in Bourg d'Oisans before the climb. Since we were staying on the top, there was no need to hold back. Alpes D Huez is not the hardest climb, but it is for sure the most Iconic. The first 5-6km are pretty steep, but then it eases up to a more reasonable 6%.

  After we gathered on the top, we made our way to the hotel. Le Caribou, was our home for the night. After a shower we all found our way to the deck to watch the tour.
It really doesn't get any better than riding Alpes D' Huez, staying on the top, and drinking a beer while watching the tour. This was truly turning into the trip of a lifetime. Later that night it stormed. Thunderstorms in the Alpes are awesome, plus it really cooled things off. The next day we woke up to bright sunshine, cooler temps and this view,
  We were above the clouds, pretty awesome. It did take away from the view of our ride that morning, but it was still cool.

 Today was when we start following, or I should say proceeding the tour. The plan was to climb the Col du Glandon from the other side. I'm not sure if I was getting more fit, or if it was the cooler temps, but I felt incredible that day. Don't get me wrong there were some really tough stretches, but I never seemed to struggle. I caught up with Richard and next thing I know, we were being stopped. They were shutting down the roads. Are you fucking kidding me, I am having the ride of my life and I have to stop? We were warned this could happen, but Man... We managed to sneak our way through a few check points and eventually made it to the summit. Thinking we were home free we started the descent. It wasn't long until I realized why they didn't want people riding, there were lots of pedestrians about.

  We made it about 6k before we were stopped again, this time until the race was through. It wasn't all bad. Martin was there with the van, which had all our stuff in it, there was a food stand, beer, and TV to watch the tour until it came by us.

Plus the weather was good and the view wasn't bad either.

 We watched the tour on TV until the leaders went over the top, then made our way to seem them come by.
  Finally 20 minutes after all the riders came by, they let us go. It was a long day, but Totally worth it.

 Our next stop was the village of Le Chambre, which would be our home for the rest of the trip. The good was the location was perfect, the bad, was the hotel wasn't the best.

  I was really excited about the next days ride. It was stage 19, the stage I raced in the Etape. Our plan was to ride what may be my favorite climb.  Des Lacets Mountverier.

 It is only 3.4 km, but it averages almost 9%, and it ties into the Col du Chaussy , which we had to ride the last 10k of. It was fun, since we were all very competitive while riding it. We then made our way back to the hotel for front row seats of the tour that day.
 My balcony gave me an awesome view of the race as it came through.
 The GC leaders rolling through.

  The next day was my last riding day, so it was go big or go home. We all decided on an early start to avoid getting stuck on course. The climb that day was Col de la Croix de Fer. Like all of the climbs in the Alps, the average gradient is very deceptive. There was some descending and flat, which means a lot of 9 and 10% for all 28km. We managed to get to the top quicker than expected and avoided the road closings. We got back to the hotel in time for lunch and to watch the tour ride the climb we just did.

  We all celebrated the end of our trip that night with Pizza and beer. I have to say it truly was a trip of a life time. I met a lot of cool people and rode some of the most unbelievable roads and climbs in the world. I can't thank the guys from Alpine Cadence enough. John Thomas, Nick McLoughlin, and Martin Rowe. These guys made everything seamless. I also want to thank Alex Mant for inspiring me to take on this adventure. I just hope I get to do a trip like this again in the not so distant future.

Thanks for reading


Jon Tomas said...

I already Riding in France 3 times, it was a great experience.I hope that I can come back France again and do it one more time

THOMAS said...

Nice photos of your trip to France. Riding bikes and drinking beers would be such fun.

Jackson said...

Thanks for sharing your trip pictures. I am also trying to make a plan with my friends for biking tour.