In which an ageing climber comes to terms with life closer to the ground.

3/8/2008

Sandbagged

Filed under: — Mike Chapman @ 8:40 pm

The Alp d’ Huez from the road leading up to Villard Notre Dame

Sun 3rd of August

I thought I would rest today but looking up at the hillside from the campsite I could see the road that had been recommended to me by an English cyclist that connects to the road that comes down from the Col d’Ornon.

In fact after he had asked me about the rides I had done already he suggested that this was the next one I should do. It was also in the shade and as it was hot today with hardly any breeze it seemed like a good idea.

The road starts from behind the church in Bourg d’Oisans and is interesting because it is straight and in places it appears to be like a balcony attached to the cliff side and as you ascend the drop gets larger. Water was pouring down in places but that made it refreshingly cool.

One of the tunnels up to Villard Notre Dame

It was one of those interesting roads that it would be quite possible to drive over the edge if you descended too fast and lost control, there were also tunnels. It was a single track road, the first tunnels were no problem as you could see through to the other side before you entered. Higher up I entered one that I could not see out to the other side. I cycled in to the tunnel the light slowly going and then it was pitch dark I promised myself three more revolutions before getting off and walking. Just as was about to stop I saw some light so I continued. You think my friend on the camp site would have told me about the tunnels! There were more tunnels but not as scary. The hairpins started and it was the full “sound of music experience” I arrived in Villard Notre Dame, parked the bike and it promptly fell over, my titanium bike!

Close to Villard Notre Dame

I had a coffee on a balcony with views of the mountains.

The next section of the ride was supposed to take me across to the Col d’ Ornon road; it probably did but it was not a tarmac road. You think he would have told me! I was not willing to risk the bike on that kind of surface so I turned around.

Not suitable for a road bike

That should have been the end of it but I had not thought through what it would be like to descend through that dark wet tunnel. I went in slowly but on this side it immediately went dark I tried to stop skidded a bit and went into panic mode. Walking in cycling shoes in a completely dark wet tunnel worrying about hitting the sides and traffic coming was frightening! It only took about a minute before I could see some light. If he had told me I would have bought lights!

2 Hours 22min
Av speed 11.8 Km
28Km

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