Tag Archives: TdF

A brutal day on the Galibier for us, but not as bad as Pogacar on the Col du Granon!

Not that unlike a photo I took on the Tourmalet during the Lance years, with Lance leading out Ulrich and several other contenders. Here we have Pogacar following by Vingegaard, who would soon be spoiling his party.

Things went according to plan today on our Galibier ride; no issues with picking up the rental car, finding a place almost right at the bottom of the climb to start, and having just the right amount of time to get to the top. Yeah, that last one…

You have to wonder what Pogacar was telling his team director over the radio; this is shortly before the top of the Galibier, the last time Pogacar seemed completely in control of his destiny. He completely fell apart on the final climb half an hour later.

Kevin started out pretty strong at the bottom; thank goodness I was feeling a lot better than yesterday, but he still had to wait up for me quite a few times. At least until we got past Valloire, on the “real” Galibier (past the Telegraph), when Kevin’s legs and back just weren’t in the game anymore. I thought lunch would revive him; it helped, and his spirits were buoyed a bit when the Caravan came through (proof that you’re really at the Tour de France). But there was no water sponsor handing out bottles this year!!! What’s with that?

When the Gendarmes came through and announced we’d have to walk, it was almost a sense of relief for Kevin. I couldn’t go fast, but I could still turn the pedals. Eventually we found a good spot, about 1.5km from the top. Afterwards I asked Kevin if he wanted to finish the climb, but no, not today. It’s not unfinished business though; Kevin did the full Glandon/Galabier loop back in 2011 I think? That’s going to be a tough act to follow.

On the way down, we came across a huge crowd off to the side in Valloire; there was a huge TV screen showing the end of the race. That was really cool; normally we don’t know how things finished until we get back and see the reports on-line or, if cell coverage is good enough, on our phones. But this time we got to see the last 3km of the race live, the part where Pogacar gets dropped by Vingegaard and likely lost his Tour bid this year.

Kevin feared the return section between Valloire and The Telegraph, and nothing I could tell him could make him think it’s actually the fun climb/diversion from the descent that it is. It’s a power climb; between 3-5% and, following a ton of other cyclists, you really get into it. I’ve done it twice, and I remember feeling the same way Kevin did as you descended into Valloire on the way up. You’re thinking, I don’t want to have to climb this on the way back! Today, I was seeing power numbers that made me think it’s possible I’m going to ride myself back into shape while here.

Tomorrow it’s Alpe d’Huez, which involves a shorter drive, less than an hour, and hopefully it will be just a bit cooler.

Friday’s ride was pretty AMAZING

This climb is so fun they warn you when you’re 5km away

Heading up the Col d’Iseran, a beautiful climb but where are all the people?[/caption]Got some catching up to do; this is actually Monday July 29th, sitting in a lounge in Toronto on our way home. But need to cover a pretty nice ride, Friday’s trip up the Col d’Iseran.

Weather has been a continuing issue so we drove to about 25 miles from the summit, bypassing some of the long, gradual grades leading up to Besson. No problem finding a place to park the car, but a bit nervous about food. You just don’t know how many villages there will be, and how many will have shops selling sandwiches. On the lower flanks, it wasn’t a problem, but once we got to the hill, there was some concern that we’d be on fumes. More on that later.

The mountain is relentless. It just keeps going, and going, and going. Unfortunately, it was broken up nastily by long stretches where the gendarmes required us to walk our bikes. Did not realize how much walking we’d be doing, and how our legs would feel.

One very surprising thing was how few spectators there were. This was the first time we’d been on a major climb where there were no issues finding good spots to take photos. Some of this may be due to the remoteness; accessing the Iseran base is about a two hour drive from Grenoble. Still, not THAT much further from the Galibier. Go figure.

Our survival depended on getting to the top for more food & drink!

We were a bit concerned about the weather, after the prior day’s fun descending from the Col du Lauteret. I know from experience that weather above 8000ft can get dicey very quickly, and the top of the Iseran is at about 9000ft. We were initially thinking about not even getting towards the top (due to the amount of walking involved, courtesy of the Gendarmes) but we were running out of both food and drink. Not a good thing. Getting up closer to the top was almost a matter of survival. So we set out to climb the final 2k, almost entirely on foot (yuck!) and found a place selling cokes and sausage sandwiches (the best!). Stocked up and headed back down to a really cool place right around 8000ft. Great photos, and got a feel for what was happening in the race as things had split up before getting to us.

Kevin squeezed against the wall

Kevin was squeezed tightly against the inside wall, and had some very tense moments when it appears cyclists were going to run right over him. I was going for longer shots.

After the last rider came through, we quickly packed up and descended the hill, encountering just light sprinkles on the way down. Meantime, just a very few miles away, the road had been devastated by a localized heavy downpour that created a mudslide across the road in one place, and so much hail in another that it couldn’t be cleared off in time before the race got there. They ended up cancelling the race after it went over the top of the mountain. We had no idea just how bad things were, so close by.

Peter Sagan leading the sprinters to the top, well after the leaders

The descent… it was one of those super-long descents where it seemed like it was longer, more descending, than the climb up it was. It didn’t seem like THAT bad a climb, and yet the descent just went on… and on… and on. There were two spots where you had to do some climbing on the way back, but they actually came as a welcome relief, a chance to stretch the legs a bit.

And then, finally, we were back at the car. This is a climb I’d love to do on my carbon-fiber Trek Emonda, and without the Gendarmes.