Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Stage 8 Col d'Iseran

Stage 8 Lanslevillard to Bourg St Maurice via Col d’Iseran

Aka Ian’s Big Day (and Tommy’s ultimate challenge!)

The reason why I say Ian’s big day is that he’s cycling over the highest pass in Europe today, at 2760m! And that after all the big cols he’s already climbed, and approx 300 miles covered. Amazing! Not only that, Tommy the Timbervan is about to have a big adventure climbing the exact same route. I set off a little later than Ian, and caught him half-way up the pass, with glorious views either side. Meadows of wild flowers and then alpine flowers as we started to gain height- white pasque flowers, purple aconites, wild thyme everywhere.

I waited for him at the top, with fruit cake and orange juice and fizzy water at the ready. The climb just goes on and on, but wow what views. Photos of Ian taken on the way up and then the obligatory one of him standing with bike, near the Col d’Iseran sign. I was so proud of him, and he looked well and relaxed, even though he said it had been really hard. It’s worth mentioning here that Ian always wears a heart monitor and regularly checks that his heart stays around the 145 bpm mark on a climb. I’d love to have a go at this next year, but need to get more cycling and climbing done before then!

Ten minutes rest and then all the way back down the valley to Bourg St Maurice, following the path of the river Isere, through Val d’Isere (not much to say about that place, big, commercial, purpose-built town with unattractive massive hotels on the exit), through Tignes, with its impressive dam, and through the pretty Ste.Foy-Tarentaise to Seez on the outskirts of Bourg St Maurice. Lovely site –Le Reclus, in amongst the shade of the pine trees, which is as well, as it’s the hottest day since we arrived or is it just that we are now a bit lower down than we have been for some time (about 900m). Off to find a bar, as England are playing today against Germany. Passed a big Heineken tent in Seez full of German tourists. Not sure we really ought to be there, especially as they were “going for it”, when I went through at 12.30pm and the match isn’t until 4pm here!!! Might not have much choice as most of the touristy bars haven’t got going yet until first week in July!

Ian says: I had hardly got out of campsite when I had to get in first gear and climb 200 metres. I hate that – you cannot get warmed up and everything hurts straightaway.

Anyway grind my way to top stopping twice (heart beat definitely more than 145 bpm!). It is a fantastic climb – well above some snow patches – there were people skiing. As I may have said before descent isn’t pleasant as you have to be braking continuously, this for 6700 ft of descent! Your hands kill. I am definitely on home straight now with climb to Cormet de Roseland tomorrow, one we know well from last year.

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