Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Col de Cayolle and Col de Vars

Col de Vars
On our final day in Barcelonette, we cycled up to the Col de Cayolle, altitude 2326 m, 29km from the campsite. A delightful cycle ride along the Gorge du Bachelard, with steep cliffs rising above the road, and the churning river below, into the Parc National de Mercantour, and out into meadows full of wild flowers. You have to keep your glasses on around here, with massive insects flying at you all the time! A lovely ascent to the summit of Cayolle, and then a speedy run off, down a gentle gradient. Just the ticket for recovering legs! Nearly 40 mls in total, but an easy climb. That night we went into town to watch the footie. France had just beaten Ukraine, though you wouldn't have known it. They don't seem to be into football here at all. As England and Sweden began playing, people stood in front of the screen to decide what to order for drinks next, sat down briefly, changed their minds and got up again. They left and then a large group of young French girls, out on the town, sat right under the large screen, totally oblivious to any match being played. In the end we left at half time, just after Sweden equalised, and a few French cheers went up! Woke to find that England had won in the end 3-2, so it might have been a good game! The day after, Ian set off for Guillestre 30 ish miles away to the North, and I cycled over. Going north to Guillestre takes you over the Col de Vars, 2109m. Wouldn't have been such a busy road, had it not been for the Coupe de Grande Route des Alpes, a classic racing car rally, continually coming towards me on route. Some sounded like there was no way were they going to make it all the way to Nice, back-firing, alarmingly, as they spluttered and coughed past. But there were some beautiful classic cars, and I managed to snatch a few snaps.
A few kms before the summit, the road ramps up to 10 and 12% which knocks you a bit flat, so the top is a welcome sight! High mountain peaks soar up, and there is a lovely descent all the way to Guillestre. I met Ian cycling up from the town towards the Col and ate the butties I'd packed for us earlier, and then back to van and a rest! Just been reading up on the cols that Ian has in mind for us while we're here, Col d'Agnello, on the Italian border, and the Col d'Izoard, which Ian has done before. I'm not sure that the old proverb "fore warned is fore armed" works in this case! Probably better not knowing!!!

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