Col du Grand Colombier
I had thought about riding the Mont du Chat, but the forecast of a high probability for thunder and lightning in that area made me rethink.
On my Meteoblue weather app, there is a handy little option,’Where2go’.
It suggests somewhere within a range where the weather might be preferable.
On this occasion, it was Culoz, which was conveniently the start of the Col du Grand Colombier climb.
In this year’s Tour de France, the Col du Grand Colombier is the finishing climb for the 14th of July stage. An important climb and a big occasion. So time to set down a marker for the boys.
Another sweltering day for an 8/10 climb of 17.5Kms.
Within the first 2Kms, an eye stinging sweat was flooding my sunglasses. I couldn’t see a thing. It was time to ditch them. They had done their initial job. They had made me look cool at the start (or so I imagined)
The first 7Km started at 8% then held steady at 10-12% over a section of ever rising hairpins closely knitted together.
Eventually it drops to a 2-4% plateau and even a slight decline, but then ramps back with some very mean 14% sections.
In terms of the Tour, this is going to be a very interesting stage.
Will someone go early over the first 7Km because if they do, then they could soon be out of sight.
How will they deal with the flat sections, or will someone launch an attack in the last gruelling Kms when it jolts you with a 12%.
For me, it was a tough ride.
Never judge a book by the cover (or a rider by his shorts)
The jolly 8% spin yesterday did not feel a jolly 8% today.
The disruption of the higher gradients made me keep a close eye on my heart rate and cadence. It’s a long climb so best to keep thing sin some sort of control.
After 5Km a lady passed me on an electric bike. She slowed, we had a chat about the Brompton, then off she went.
A few minutes later, two riders passed by me. One looked like a conventional cyclist in his lycra while the other was an older leather tanned gent dressed in a pair of running shorts, cycling shoes, and sunglasses.
They greeted me as they passed and up the road they went.
Within a Km, the conventional looking cyclist was weaving across the road with a cadence of about 40.
The chap with no short and just a a pair of running shorts was now a distant figure on the brow of the next rise.
I quickly came alongside the distressed rider.
He said that his mistake was trying to keep up with his friend but now he was paying for it.
Sugar and inspiration
The early stages of the climb were so demanding that even the brief respite of 4% seemed tough.
It was time to fire up a gel. I am not sure if they work or if I just think they do, but it got me through.
As I pushed hard up the last rise to the summit, the views just opened, and the magnificent white cycling statue provided the beacon of inspiration I needed.
The timing was just right as I had almost finished my second 750ml bottle.
The lady that passed me on her electric bike greeted me at the summit and beside her was her husband, the leather skinned gent.
We all talked over a coffee.
They lived in a nearby town, and he enjoys climbing the mountain most days, she told me. WOW!
Climbing this Col must have been like just popping down to the shops for him.
He was outstanding.
Extra, Extra, Read all About It
After the photos, including some without the photo bombing Brompton, it was time to descend.
My legs did not enjoy the plateau on the descent when they realised they had some work, but with the faster descents came the hairpins.
It was while hurtling down that I might have been a newsworthy mention.
Headline might have been along the lines of
“British Brompton rider taken out by Tour de France Team Car on the Col du Grand Colombier. Extra! Extra! Read All About It!”
or would it be the,
“And finally …”
as the passing light heated moment on News at 10.
As I sped around the corner, a bunch of Team AG2R team riders were ascending with their support car conveniently alongside them on the wrong side of the road.
I wonder what he thought as he hurriedly swerved back across the road, away from a swearing Brompton rider.
Tomorrow looks like a rest day as the forecast is rain, rain with more rain.