Monday, 2 July 2012

Col du Galibier

Relaxing at Col de Lauteret
Valloire to Col du Galibier Once Ian had returned from a speedy ascent of Col d'Ornon, we set off on the short journey to the town of Valloire, in the region of the Haute Savoie. A grassy campsite, Camping de Sainte Thecle, near the centre. There's not much in town, being yet another ski village, deserted in the summer, with not much atmosphere. But it's the best place to cycle up the Col du Galibier from, a much shorter but steeper journey than from Bourg d'Oisan. After a rest day, I set off at 8.30am, getting a head start on Ian, both of us having to pause for a short time whilst sheep were herded across the road! A lovely sunny morning, with a slight nip in the air.
Kilometer markers
 A steep climb out of Valloire, and then out through the hamlet of Bonnenuit, onto the Plan Lachat, before climbing steeply up to Les Granges, and the farming cooperatives of Beaufort cheese, although we're about 50 miles from Beaufort itself. Still climbing up to the cafe near the tunnel, where cyclists then continue on up to the col summit. Feeling strong and comfortable, having reached the top in 2hrs 2mins, it seemed to soon to return to Valloire, and the views were spurring me on to spend more time at altitude. Nothing for it, but to follow Ian's suggestion and continue over the top and down to Col de Lauteret, about 8kms away. A coffee and a portion of tarte aux myrtilles and then it was back up the way I'd just come down, back up to the top of Col du Galibier for the second time. I was a bit worried that I'd bitten off more than I could chew, but was pleased that I didn't find the return climb too strenuous, but had to work hard on the last kilometre, which is 10.5%. Over the top for the second time and then an exhilarating descent down the mountain, all the way to Valloire, and a beer at the van! Really chuffed, having climbed 1800m and more importantly feeling good. Now I've climbed three of the highest passes, Col d'Agnello (2700m), Col de la Bonette (about 2700m) and Col du Galibier (about 2600m). The training up Mont Ventoux has definitely paid off, and I'm so thrilled with my "granny" gear, which has made all the difference between struggling and enjoying.

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