Col d Izoard
Time to leave the fridge
Camp moving day and again to plan.
There was one local climb remaining, the Col d Izoard from Briancon.
Did I wake early on a bright sunny morning fuelled by the excitement of another climb?
No, I woke up to get some blood circulating; it was f’ing cold.
I’m in the South of France and it’s July, but I’m in a fridge.
As I opened the car to take out some gear, I peered at the thermometer: It was reading 5 degrees and it was 8:00am!
What the temperature dropped to in the night, I do not know?
At 9:15, the sun made an appearance over the top of the nearby mountain peak, but it was at least another 30 minutes before any warmth came to my area.
I’ve seen what its like on the other side.
It was tempting to the Col d Izoard on Monday, but a gut reaction made me venture further afield to climb the Col d Agnel, which was a good thing.
To reach Col d Agnel, I had to drive over the Col d Izoard and by doing so; I witnessed the most amazing landscape on the side I would not have ridden.
It was jaw dropping, and I immediately decided that I needed to ride it.
My ride today therefore was to go over the Col d Izoard and return to Briancon.
After recirculating my blood, the next challenge was to find a car parking space in Briancon.
The road closures and one-way systems made it a busy town.
The climb started nicely at 6% but gradually ramped up on the nicely surfaced wide.
It was not too dramatic, but surprising at how quickly I was looking down over the town.
At a about 4Km, the road dropped, which allowed me to muster up some speed for the next rise.
As I started a 10% effort, a light breeze picked up.
Today, the gradient was not an issue for me as I fixed my mind on the landscape on the far side of the mountain.
The sweat on my arms chilled, but it was not on the Col d Agnel scale of yesterday.
With the last bend in sight, I spotted the resident photographer.
He was sitting with his nose buried in his phone under an umbrella, completely oblivious to all around him.
“Oi, you’re missing THE shot,” I shouted.
It was enough for him to jump into action, but he was too late.
“You snooze, you lose and a sale missed”, I thought.
During yesterday’s drive over the Col d Izoard there was a steady stream of riders, today however only one and that was in the last Km.
Not enough road left (for me, anyway) to catch them.
At the summit, motorcycles and cars were aplenty but only one the one cyclist I had seen earlier.
The rider was a Dutch lady.
Bother her and husband both ride but as they now have a child, they take it in turns to have a day riding.
Sounds a reasonable arrangement.
It’s not so far , so it must be easier, right?
The climb from Briancon had been 19Km. The climb from the opposite side was 14Km.
This, of course, does not equate to it being any easier.
The first 7Km unexpectedly averaged 10-12% which slightly waned my initial enthusiasm.
The emphasis now is not so much on reaching the summit; it is more about reaching the car.
At 3Km to summit, the road sign showed 3Km @ 1.4%, whoohoo, except it started at 11% before dropping to 9% after a corner.
To make the average, something dramatic must happen quickly, I thought, and it did.
A 9% drop and I was away until the 2Km to go wall from the summit.
The top was still a busy place and despite the temptation to grab a coffee; I needed to return to Briancon for the car and head to Barcelonnette.
It was the best, until…
The drive was about an hour and a half away, which was further than I would have liked, but I had planned to meet my friend Rob who was visiting to ride the area.
The Col d Izoard had been another great ride and one I would certainly recommend, but the best part of the day was that Rob had made a curry and bought some beer.