Dr Craig, accompanied by five equally crazy friends, headed off to France to cycle ten of the mountain stages of the Tour. Here are a few thoughts from Craig’s Alpine diary…
Pyrenees and Alpine stages 12th -20th July 2006
Day 1 – Col du Marie Blanc (9.3km at 7.7%)
Total 136.8km, ascent total 1680m
After a restless nights sleep in Lourdes the ride to the base of the climb was at a relaxed pace, a few snaps at the foot of the climb we started the ascent. The first few kms were worryingly flat at 3-4% as the 12-13% gradients awaited. Thanking my mechanic that had added extra gears to my bike, made it to the top that was masked in fog and low cloud.
Day 2 – Col du Tourmalet (18.3km at 7.7%)
Total 101km, total ascent 1965m
After a good nights sleep and a relaxing roll up the valley to the beautiful village of Luz-Saint-Sauveur. After an expresso we commenced the climb. Two hours later we were at the top just before the road was closed for the pro’s. The roll down was fast and hot and a swim in the holy water back at Lourdes was much appreciated.
Day 3 – Avignon. “Rest day” -20km spin.
Day 4 – Mt Ventoux (21.1km at 7.63%)
Total 96km, total ascent 1860m.
From Avignon the ride out was early to beat the heat winding through vineyards to the village of Bedoin. We started the ascent after 10am and the mercury was rising fast. The moon-scape waiting for us at the top was a little surreal but after a two hour grind the views were awesome.
Day 5 – Vercours Mountains to Grenoble. 70km. 900m ascent.
Day 6 – Alpe d’Huez. 140km. 1860m ascent
Beautiful ride up the valley to Bourg d’Oisans, a quick espresso and then started the 14km to the Alpe d’Huez summit. The road was lined with all the crazies awaiting their professional idols the following day, you needed to get there early to find a place to park your campervan!
Day 7 – Rest day in Grenoble.
Day 8. Col du Madeline. 60km. 1665m ascent.
Top temp 40 degrees Celsius. Probably the most picturesque ride of the tour and the sounds of 1000 cow bells greeted us at the summit.
Day 9 – Annecy. Col du Forclaz. 60km, 765m ascent.
The steepest climb so far, although only 8 km long, but the view at the top of Lake Annecy was certainly worth it.
See you next year!