Today was all about the climbing. But when here, there’s not much else you can do but climb… or descend. ~82 miles. Over 15,000 feet of climbing. In one day. That’s definitely a record for me. Our two main passes were: the Col du Glandon, a 30 km climb and the Col de la Croix de Fer, a 28 km climb. Both climbs average 8 or 9%. You think its hard going nearly 19 miles at that %? Well, it kind of is, but as I learned yesterday, if you don’t burn your matches too quickly, its really just not that hard. Our last climb was up to our accommodations at Villard Reculas, a 7 mi 10ish% climb and admittedly, that one proved to be difficult. No matter where we go, we always have to climb up either that one or 2/3 of Alpe d’Huez to get back. Its important to keep the effort in check early in the day.
The descents here are not easy. The roads are narrow and there are many many switchbacks. Switchbacks that have no guardrail or even a small berm to keep you from hurling 1000s of meters to an eminent and rather unfortunate demise. My hands continually cramp and I’m afraid to even check my brakes for wear. There are some areas that you can open things up a bit but without knowing the roads, there’s always the concern of an unforeseen turn or head-on vehicle. For us though, the roads have been relatively quiet and the drivers here expect the cyclists and give you no grief.
What I can’t get into words (partly because of the grandiose and partly because of the exhaustion) is the scenery. For anyone who watches the Tour, the pictures always seem amazing. And its even better in person, honestly. Since I can’t describe it, I’ll add a few photos.
And when I get back to the states, I will be a machine… with really strong hands.
Things were getting a little punchy with about 8k to go up the Col de la Croix de Fer
From the top of the Col du Glandon
Despite the crack in my frame, ML’s hanging in there well. Black electric tape is the bomb.