They say it’s going to be cooler today.
I had planned a relatively easier day after the Ballon de Servance and the Planche des Belles Filles double, but decided on doing the Ballon d’Alsace and Grand Ballon as they were both 6/10s.
Stupidly, and as I did in the past, I believed the ratings.
A supposedly cooler day than yesterday turned into a 33-degree oven as I clipped in to start the shorter of the Ballons, the Alsace.
Unlike my other climbs I had ridden this year, the Alsace started off with a bang for the first 3Km of the 9Km ascent.
As I passed the houses and fields into the tree lined section, the gradient rose to 10-12%. Phew!
A Km later the gradient relented and 6-7% became the order of the day, but the heat made it seem far more demanding.
No messing about, no quests for glory or chasing carrots today. This was a case of lowering the gear and spinning 70rpm on 35 or 28 inches.
To scrape or not to scrape, that is the question.
With no scenery to view because of the trees, my only entertainment was the cars and motorcycles racing up the climb. Two even had sound systems playing away. (Great ☹)
Both the cars and the motorcyclists, sat across their 1000cc+ armchairs, were trying to outdo each other and showing signs of frustration.
I looked in horror at times at the close shaves between them, and I wondered if I would stop to scrape them up if needed or should I just keep going so as not to lose my rhythm.
A decision I didn’t have to make, thank goodness.
Unlike other climbs, the summit was not a desolate as it boasted two gift shops, café/bars and memorials.
Not overly crowded but a definite buzz about the place.
Feeling a bit exhausted and surprised that I had drunk through a 750ml bottle over a 9Km climb, I took full advantage of a rest to snap away.
Unwittingly, a passer-by caught my eye, and I awarded them the honour of “Photographer for a day”.
No one else was daring to come near the crazy Englishman with a Brompton.
Wide, smooth and open.
The wide banked bends were perfect for a lovely descent at 30+ and I reached the boulangerie in no time, finding it open and serving.
As I sat with my coffee and baguette, it was time to consider what was next.
The Ballon d’ Alsace had been a tougher ride than expected, and it was boiling.
I was not yet used to the heat and a wise man would have said enough is enough for the day. It’s only going to get hotter.
Decision made then, off to the Grand Ballon.