Thursday, 20 June 2013

Col de la Croix de Fer (again)

A good day out on my favourite Col, Col de la Croix de Fer
Another hot day as we set off up the road to Allemont.  Temperature rose to 34deg.  So we set off early.  A long, steep climb up to La Rivière, and drop down into the valley, with another stinker of a climb up to the barrage reservoir.  A steady stream of Dutch and English cyclists toiling up to the alpine meadows, with the first of two photographers wait to take your photos and shove a ticket into your sweaty palm as you churn past!  There is a steady gradual climb and then descent into the meadows of Les Sybelles, from where you can see the Hotel du Glandon, nestled under the Col du Glandon, and the road up to the Croix de Fer sweeps round the hill, climbing at a lovely gradient all the way up to the summit.  Apart from the annoying presence of motor cyclists zipping past at regular intervals, sometimes crossing onto your side of the road, the prospect of the next five or six miles fills you with excitement, rather than the weariness you sometimes feel after more than three hours on the bike.  Approaching the top, you get wonderful glimpses of the two pics des Arves in the distance, shooting straight up into the blue sky.
At the cafe at the top, time for a coke and a chat with a lovely father and son from Bolton, who had been with me most of the way.  They had just come from a week in the Pyrenees, and had been to most of the peaks we'd been to.  They too arrived yesterday in very hot weather, and a distinct feeling of anti-climax as you make your way up the road to Bourg en Oisans, past the quarries and hydroelectric power stations of the Romanche valley, but were much happier once they arrived!  Chatted with a large group from USA, to a guy from Texas, who comes here every year.  They seemed to have a guide with them, and their company set up a picnic table in the snow!
After even more time gazing at the mountains of Les Arves, I finally set off on the descent by the same road.  I'd met up with Ian just before the final three kilometres, so he was doing his own thing, and me mine, which suits us both!  The descent is delightful, with views up to the Chaine de Belladonne mountains, on approaching La Riviere.  Top up the water bottle at the village fountain and then a speedy but long descent through Allemont and along the road to Bourg.  Just over five hours and fifty two miles.  A long day but very enjoyable.  Ian had also climbed up to Villard Reculas on the way back, but found it very hard.  Should have taken his time a bit more, like I did.  It was much more fun!
Back to an oppressively hot afternoon, so cooled off in the pool.  Went out for a meal at La Romanche restaurant in town, but had to set off early to walk slowly because it was so hot!

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