Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Alpe D'Huez

Whilst Ian started reluctantly to wind down,("I'm not doing this again, cos there's a lot I want to do, but have to think about resting!), I went off and had more fun in the mountains.  Aiming to continue this new phase of more distance, summitting a col and dropping down into pastures new and another valley, I cycled a route which took me up Alpe d'Huez, attempting a faster time than last year, over to the Col de Sarenne, which, literally minutes earlier had acquired brand new Tarmac and a shed-load of loose grit.  Not good for the tyres and even worse for the very steep and tricky descent into the Ferrand valley, where I've never been before.  Saw our Belgian neighbour from Allemont, who'd managed the steep ascent from the Ferrand valley! He'd been into Bourg the previous day to get a new cassette for his bike, especially for this ascent!
The narrow road winds down to the dam at the Barrage du Chambon, on the road to Galibier.  Then it climbs again up to Auris and a spectacular high-level balcony road which clings to the side of the hill, hundreds of feet above the valley.  A single track road, twisting and turning, requiring concentration, but amazing.  Comes out at La Garde, number 16 on the 21virages of the Alpe d'Huez, so quite low down!
Managed the ascent of the Alpe in 1hr 25mins and 42secs, wiping nearly 4 whole minutes off my previous time, so well-chuffed!  Overall distance today 32 miles and 5000' ascent. Ian cycled up the Alpe taking if steady to register in the afternoon.
In the evening we'd went to la Romanche restaurant which is best in Bourg. Full of Dutch and equivalent noise!
The following day, Ian went stir crazy and rested at the van, whilst I went off on the beautiful road to La Berarde.  Saw a very large, very dead pine marten at the side of the road.  Another spectacular balcony route, in places, culminating in a dead-end and a mountainous full-stop at the hamlet of La Berarde.  The Barre des Ecrins in front of you, the highest being Mt Pelvoux at 3946m.  Stunning. 41 miles and 3876' ascent.
Marmotte tomorrow and my date with Galibier!

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