Monday, 2 July 2012

Col de la Madeleine

Col de la Madeleine In a couple of weeks time, Wiggins et al will be charging through La Bathie on the the same route we are taking today, up the Col. Absolutely sweltering heat last night. Managed to find a curious site, very few and far between here, just off the autoroute, behind a truckers stop. Very popular with a group of French people, who said they returned here every year, staying for two to four months. Now there's quite a bit to do if you're keen on cycling and walking, but I could n"t stay here for two nights, let alone months! Sat with my feet in a bucket of cold water, trying to bring my temperature down. At which point, our enterprising French neighbour came across with a product his friend, from the Pas de Calais, was selling. Basically smelt and had the same effect as Fiery Jack! It turned out that some of them were traders, selling their wares at local markets. They were very friendly, but bored, and seemed intrigued by us and our comings and goings! The night was extremely hot, only cooling in the middle of the night. Promised myself that the col was out of the question in this heat! Very noisy night, situated so close to the motorway. Woke in the cooler morning, determined to do the Col, as it was likely to be our last trip into the high mountains. Set off at about 8am again, as the day was forecast to be another steaming one. At this point, it's worth mentioning that back home, they have had the wettest April, May and June, since1910, when records began, coinciding with the announcement of a hosepipe ban in parts of UK! Col de la Madeleine was a classic climb, which we were pleased to have done. Caught up with Ian, on his way back down, with 6km to go. The route climbs steeply up through the trees, through Bonneval and other villages, before climbing steeply again up the hill and onto the summit. Shame that the views were marred by steamy conditions, and the summits of the surrounding mountains looked bleached! But savoured the descent, knowing it was likely to be the last mountain descent for some time! 15mls of ascent, av 6%, 5000ft actual climbing. 45 miles in total, from site. A fast cycle 40mins down the road to La Bathie. Glad we explored here, because I was ready to write it off as a busy, industrial area, with motorway running through and massive cement and gravel works nearby. But 15 mins cycle down the road are little old villages, lived in rather than empty, and stunning hills and mountains. On returning, another quick shower, farewell to the neighbours, who have chosen to stay most of the summer here, and brief drive down the road to Annecy, to a site with a swimming pool!

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