Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tour De France 2015 Stage 19 Col Du Glandon

The last day of the trip before we break up at Geneva. We had a long drive via Italy to the base of the Col du glandon which we drove over to get to Alpe D'huez earlier in the week. Today was Stage 19 of the TDF and we were going to ride up partway to watch the Peloton riding. It was another hot beautiful day in the French Alpes and there is just breathtaking views everywhere you look. we all met up at a carpark at the base of the climb did some shopping at the supermarket for lunch and then with backpacks headed up the climb which the Peloton would be doing in a few hours.

Having driven over it was no easy climb and I was thankful we were not riding all the way to the top .With a full back pack and some steep climbs and the heat it was slow going. We started in a town called La Chambre and then it is just a straight climb with a fairly easy gradient just getting more difficult. There were French police stationed every few kms and we had to dismount and walk at each checkpoint which was bizarre as they could see us getting back on and riding. I got as far as 6km before we decided on a spot at a corner to watch the Peloton fly by. It was a long wait as people and cycles moved along the route for vantage points. Then the long line of vehicles and sponsor trucks rolled by with gifts and freebies and then official cars and at around 3.20 pm the roar f the helicopter overhead and then we saw the lead cyclist climbing up the mountain followed a minute or two behind by the peloton and Froome surrounded by sky riders.I was busy trying to capture as many pictures as I could and only got a glimpse. I did get a bidon thrown by one of the cyclist .We then rode down for the lond drive back and a dinner at the Old Town in Briancon . memorable 2 weeks with great memories and pictures. ( write up on Col du Glandon in Climb by Bike )

Day 12 Col D'Izoard

Café just before the summit where we had coffee

Views from Col D'IZoard


On the climb up from Briancon

Today we were going to watch Stage 18 of the TDF but decided to ride the Col D'Izoard instead and watch the Tour tomorrow as the peloton climbs the Col Du Gladon in stage 19 .

This is another climb that features in TDF especially in the 1950s and today as I rode I saw Pantani's name still painted on the road. Today it was a straight 21km ride up to the top and rising about 1000m from the start at our Hotel at 1350m to 2350 m .It was also a route used since Roman times and by Napoleon . The climb was a gentle 5% start but quickly after 6 km started to steepen to 8and 7 % and was a hard climb with tired legs .I found it hard and slow going but the scenery as always was great.

After about 10kms and passing a village , the climb again starts to increase in gradient and there is spectacular view down through the valley towards Briancon. The climb that takes a series of switchbacks before a long 2km climb to a café and a final 1km from the café to the top. After a few pictures I rode down for 2kms down the other side but then rode back up to the café for coffee. The legs were definitely feeling the tiredness of 10days of climbing and riding with over 1000 to 2000m of climbing each day and several hundred kms in the 2 weeks I was feeling pretty tired.

Wikipedia on Col Du D'Izoard:

Col d'Izoard (2,360 m (7,743 ft)) is a mountain pass in the Alps in the department of Hautes-Alpes in France.
It is accessible in summer via the D902 road, connecting Briançon on the north and the valley of the Guil in Queyras, which ends at Guillestre in the south. There are forbidding and barren scree slopes with protruding pinnacles of weathered rock on the upper south side. Known as the Casse Déserte, this area has formed a dramatic backdrop to some key moments in the Tour de France, and often featured in iconic 1950s black-and-white photos of the race.[2

Day 11 Alpe D'Huez

Start of Alpe D'Huez climb

View on the way up

Col Du Glandon which featured on the TDF and we drove over to get to Alpe D'huez

driving over Col du Glandon to get to Alpe D'huez

Today , the 22 July 2015 , we travelled to Alpe D'Huez to ride the iconic climb in the TDF .Also known as the Dutch mountain partly for the number of wins cyclist from Holland have had and also the number of Dutch fans that now congregate there .This year it is the last stage before Paris and as there is only one way up or down it is a stage finish which should be epic if there are going to be any chases or changes in the placing's although it looks like Frome is safe .

It is an epic ride for the fact the Alpe D'Huez is the Glamorous mountain of the TDF .For everyone in the group it was a chance to ride it possibly once in a lifetime and particularly a few days before the Peloton goes through it. It was epic also for the fact we had to drive for 3 hours to get to the base of the climb as the tunnel that was a direct route from Briancon was closed making it a 3 hour drive via Italy and a variation for the TDF race this year. The drive also meant driving over Col Du Glandon which was part of the race route for stage 18 the 23 July 2015 and there were cars , people and RVs driving and dotting the route making it really hard to get over the mountain . Three hours later we arrived and set off in 37C heat up the 21 switchbacks .

The ride starts with a straight up steep ascent for the first 2-3 kms and then levels to an average 8% .I was slow up the climb and just pushing a 27 cassette was hard but I managed to remain consistent but slow.I started out first and got passed by the lead riders in our group at about switchback 10 or about 9km up .I was averaging 6-7 kph and there were parts of the climb that were over 10%.The average for the climb was 8% but there are parts that were over 12%.

It was hard going but the people already congregating on the climb egged us on and there was a multitude of cyclists from all over the world riding up. It was really hard for the last few kms with the gradient again rising and the tired legs pushing the cogs . I managed to get lost in the village but finally found the finish line with everyone waiting .Managed to get a drink and waited for the rest to finish before getting pictures at the finish line and then another drink and back down the switchbacks  for the long ride home. I took about 1.45 to ride the 15 plus km although the official course up is about 13.8 to 14.1km .I was happy with the result especially with the gears and steel bike I had.

The ride back was another 3 hours and we got back to Briancon at about 7.15 pm a memorable but long day.

Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the climb and TDF:

Details of the climb[edit](Wikipedia Alpe D'Huez )

The climb to the summit starts at Le Bourg d'Oisans in the Romanche valley. The climb goes via the D211 from where the distance to the summit (at 1,860 m (6,102 ft)) is 13.8 km (8.6 mi), with an average gradient of 8.1%, with 21 hairpin bends and a maximum gradient of 13%.[7] In 2013, the finish of Stage 18 of the Tour de France, was at 1,850 m (6,070 ft) with the first passage being at a maximum altitude of 1,765 m (5,791 ft).[8]

Tour de France[edit]

L'Alpe d'Huez is climbed regularly in the Tour de France. It was first included in the race in 1952 and has been a stage finish regularly since 1976.[7]
The race was brought to the mountain by Élie Wermelinger, the chief commissaire or referee.[9] He drove his Dyna-Panhard car between snow banks that lined the road in March 1952, invited by a consortium of businesses who had opened hotels at the summit.[10] Their leader was Georges Rajon, who ran the Hotel Christina.[11] The ski station there opened in 1936. Wermelinger reported to the organiser, Jacques Goddet, and the Tour signed a contract with the businessmen to include the Alpe.[10] It cost them the modern equivalent of €3,250.[11]
That first Alpe d'Huez stage was won by Fausto Coppi.[9] Coppi attacked 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) from the summit to rid himself of the French rider Jean Robic.[9][12] He turned the Alpe into an instant legend because this was the year that motorcycle television crews first came to the Tour.[9] It was also the Tour's first mountain-top finish.[13] The veteran reporter, Jacques Augendre, said:
The Tourmalet, the Galibier and the Izoard were the mythical mountains of the race. These three cols were supplanted by the Alpe d'Huez. Why? Because it's the col of modernity. Coppi's victory in 1952 was the symbol of a golden age of cycling, that of champions [such as] Coppi, Bartali, Kubler, Koblet, Bobet. But only Coppi and Armstrong and Carlos Sastre have been able to take the maillot jaune on the Alpe and to keep it to Paris. That's not by chance. From the first edition, shown on live television, the Alpe d'Huez definitively transformed the way the Grande Boucle ran. No other stage has had such drama. With its 21 bends, its gradient and the number of spectators, it is a climb in the style of Hollywood.[12]

Day 10 Col Du Lautaret and Col Du Galibier

On the way up Col Du Lautaret

The climb up to Galibier



At the top of Galibier

down the other side at the town of Valloire

Climbing Back up to Galibier

Fredo the Golden Retriever at the top of Galibier

Heading back down to Lautaret

Today we did one of the major rides for the trip in the region of Briacon where we are based for the next 5 nights .It is a great ride and a favourite of  .It was about to be the longest ride of the trip for me with a 110km return ride and an elevation in excess of 2500 to 2800m . The first stage to Lautaret isn't to bad starting from Briancon and rises gently for 28kms although with a slight headwind I did find it tough.As our group stretched out along the road leading to Lautaret ,there were 2 other cycling groups on the road and they happened to be Australians and one group was from Perth and had Malaga Cycles Jerseys. I tried to keep up with the 2 older guys in the group and managed for a while .They stopped for a break and I continued after a few shots but they soon caught up with me near the top. At  Lautaret we all regrouped and I had a break with a coffee and more pictures.

At Lautaret we were already at 2000m and as the pictures show the views were great.This route is also a major road to the next valley and the tunnel closure had caused a redrawing of one of the stages of the TDF this year .After the break we all started the climb to Col Du Galibier , a steeper climb and a straight up 8km climb. The Col du Galibier was just a lot of gradient but no harder than what we had faced. At the top we had a break for pictures and then I rode down to the village on the other side where I had Lunch with Lisa , Robyn and Kim as they were the only ones to come down. It was a nice hot day and after lunch we made our way back up Galibier. I got passed at the 4km mark and did not see them again till I got back to the Hotel. It was a slow slog up with some hard gradients of 8 and 9% .The last 1-2 kms were really hard and I had to have a break at the café just before the summit . I was pretty glad when I got to the top. It was about 4.30 in the afternoon having started at 8 am so it had been a long day even though we had breaks . At the other side of the summit I had another café break for a coke and played with a Retriever called Fredo before the fast descent down.I did not go too fast as the two cyclist from Malaga Cycles told me on a previous trip up Galibier a few years earlier there had been 2 cyclist coming off at speed on the narrow roads and one died. The roads are narrower and there was a lot of traffic because the tunnel was closed.By the time I was descending the traffic wasn't bad but I still did not go beyond 60kph because there were lots of turns and corners and not many long downhills anyway. From Lautaret it was a steady descent to Briancon and the traffic in town but made it back to the hotel by 5.20pm .The total bike distance was about 110km even though my Garmin died at 68km .It was a memorable day for the scenery and having climbed Galibier both ways and done nearly 3000m.The legs and back were tired.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Day 9 Mont Ventoux Again

View climbing up Mont Ventoux

At the top

Today after a rest day yesterday we all got to do whatever ride we wanted .Some rode up
Mont Ventoux through Bedoin and others has a short ride and coffee and I rode up Mont Ventoux from the opposite direction to the ride we did 2 days a go. With the difficulty
with the internet connection it has been hard to upload the daily excursions and rides on the

After an easy rest day spent walking around the city of Avignon and visiting the Papal
Palace in Avignon , we headed back to Malaceune and spent the evening having dinner and watching the running of the bulls. The next day I decided to ride up Mont Ventoux a second time
from the west side or starting from Melaceune .It is a straight climb of about 22km from the
town rather than having to ride to Bedoin the alternate start which we did 2 days earlier.I headed off first being a slower rider /climber at about 7am .I missed breakfast and had a coffee and a banana.The ride route was supposed to be easier than the Bedoin route up Mont Ventoux but
it had some pretty steep gradients climbing .It started gentle enough and then there was a stretch in the middle with 8 to 12 % gradients.Then there was a kick at the end as well with 8 plus percent gradients to the end. I got passed by Lindsay who started about 15 mins later and
finished the climb in 2 hrs .I managed the climb in about 2.30hrs , just a very slow climber especially with a steel bike and a cassette with 27 teeth being my largest makes it a real struggle to spin up .
The weather was much better and it wasn't as crowded when we got up to the top at 9.30 am .Waited for the others riding up in the opposite direction but in the end we just decided to ride down so we could have a shower before driving to our next base Briancon for the next 6 days
with some spectacular rides.
It was an enjoyable day and I was glad I got to put in one more ride up to Mont Ventoux. There was even a cycling Tour group that were riding all 3 routes to the top in a day.