Ballon de Servance & Planche des Belles Filles

Ballon de Servance and Planche des Belles Filles start. Fast and Furious - Move over Vin, Brompton coming through
Date: 16th June 2023
Climb Ballon de Servance
Ride No. (52)
Grade: 7/10
Climb Planche des Belles Filles
Ride No. (53)
Grade: 7/10
Location: Plancher les Mines
Climb: Ballon de Servance
Segment ID:16637573
My Time: 1:10:26
Climb: Planche des Belles Filles
Segment ID:16637606
My Time: 38:52



Hold that UGG.

Up bright and early and despite the urge for a neanderthal grunt and seek food, I disciplined myself in my yoga routine.

As I stirred my large bowl of overly hot porridge impatiently, I pondered on the forthcoming day.

First things first, check with the Tourism Office about the Col de la Schluct closure.

Good news it is open at the weekend.

This obviously saves any brawls with Gendarmes in my attempt to break through on a mission.

Also, the other good news was that the road was being resurfaced for the Tour de France – Oooh!


Plan B

Now that I had sorted my agenda, it was time to instigate Plan B.
The Ballon de Servance and the infamous Planche des Belles Filles.

This Planche des Belles Filles starts halfway up the Ballon de Servance.

The best was to make the segments was up the Ballon and then tootle up the Planche on the way down.

At the start of the Ballon de Servance, it was already 32 degrees, so a double check I had two full bottles with me. (I didn’t want to make that mistake again ????)

The Ballon starts off very civilised, but the honeymoon ends at about 5K when a long section of 10% kicks in.

It’s at this point I decided to change down to a lower gear, however, the Brompton and I are not one on this.

The dilemma at the halfway stage is to stop and fix the problem on a 10% gradient or roar loudly, carry on and fix it when it relents.
“ROAR”, is the decision but it’s a tough ask.

Finally, it eases, and I stop to see the problem, it’s a 2 second fix to tighten the three-speed pulley screw.

I’m now fired up to make up for lost seconds, which in my head seemed like minutes.


Do I or don’t I?

In front of me were two rider (carrots).

Do I or don’t I?

Normally there wouldn’t be a moments hesitation but I am now in, “Hare and tortoise territory” and so resist the instinct.

I had finally realised that by keeping a steady pace, I would reel them in.

We all greeted each other with a friendly “Bonjour” and a few pleasant words as I passed, which was nice.

The self satisfaction of catching and passing was a short-lived sensation though, as about half a dozen riders then span past me.

They were on a mission and had no time for any pleasantries wit the likes of me.

As the last few Kms closed in the heat and the gradient increased to a tough 11% with no relief on the hairpins.

Draining a water bottle and one big push in anticipation of the the summit was a  colossal disappointment.

No views, no signposts, nothing, just a road continuing down.

Ah well, back down I go to the 4Km mark for the formidable Planche des Belles Filles climb.


How about 10 minutes?

The Planche des Belles Filles was already a brutal climb, but the TdF organisers in their wisdom added an extra 20% bit at the top to spice it up.

I looked at my Garmin after the Ballon de Servance climb, before starting the Planche des Belles Filles.

As I scrolled through the menu, the display popped up and suggested I needed a recovery time of 3 days after the Ballon climb.

I wondered if we could do a deal, “How about 10 minutes instead?”

With a slight touch of “café stop legs” and a porridge bar safely tucked away it was time to go.

The Planche provided a nice 11% leg warmer just to forewarn of the serious pain that was waiting.

The forthcoming Kms seldom dropped below 8% and jumped  to 12% every now and again, just for fun. (What naughty little girls).

The climb is only 6Kms but I was counting down the Km markers and making the usual mistake of thinking the next one was lower than it was.

With only 2Km to go I tried to imagine what a 2Km distance from home would be like in an attempt to convince me that it is a short distance. It didn’t really work, the 2Kms still seemed to take forever.


The Wall

The barrier at the top of the road to stop cars was the signal to drop the gears and find that extra lung for the infamous section where Primoz Roglic effectively lost the 2020 TdF.

Time to attack the 18-20% tarmac wall adorned with TdF graffiti for that added motivation. (Primoz, I feel your pain).

I reached the finish line with a chest expanding effort but unfortunately, there were no Belles Filles to greet me, just a bunch of muddy mountain bike riders.

As they were standing by the finish line, they were still a welcome sight, though.

The Brompton was certainly a surprise to them, and after a much-broken English conversation, jokes and photos we headed our separate ways.


Move over Vin, your in my way

Now for the descent.

Within seconds, I was at 30mph rolling down the steep gradient and the sound of loose gravel shifting under the wheels.

Gently easing on the brakes and having faith in slick tyres and no sudden twitches I managed to keep my line true.

Everything was back in control (more or less) and the gravel was now replaced by a silk smooth road.



Rocking chair moment

Let the good times roll.

WOOHOOO! Awesome, I thought as the wind whistled past my ears.

Suddenly though,  this seemed a bit too fast.

Normally I have trouble making 40mph with my Brompton, but a quick glance at Garmin signalled 50mph aa I accelerated towards a fast-approaching hairpin.

Time for another brake test but perhaps this time with a tad more urgency (and care).

In Swiss Stop brake rubbers I trust, but I still sped round the tight bend quicker than I would normally had chosen.

It was the rocking too far on a rocking chair but not quite tipping sensation.

It was a total adrenaline fix with no time to worry about consequences.

Back down to the start of the climb I stopped for breathe, I was hyper-buzzing.


Poster prediction

After a more subdued descent down to the start of the Ballon de Servance and back to the car, I saw a beautiful sight.

A Patisserie was OUVERT, adrenaline made way to hunger, it was a case of one of those, one of those and one of those, “Sil vous plait”.

(I had parked in a small car park at Plancher-Bas where I immediately saw a great photo op. Before setting off, I took a photo of the Fast and Furious film poster as a bit of a joke, but how apt.)