Col du Telegraphe – Col du Galibier

The Col du Galibier (heavy metal)
Date: 15th July 2023

Climb: Col du Telegraphe
Ride No. 86
Grade: 6/10
Climb: Col du Galibier
Ride No. 87
Grade: 10/10

Location: St-Michel-De-Maurienne

Climb: Col du Telegraphe
Segment ID:16645326
My Time: 1:04:38
Climb: Col du Galibier
Segment ID:16645337
My Time: 1:38:54


Two to do, so let’s get going

The Col du Telegraph and the Col du Galibier are next to each other and therefore a popular pair of climbs ride in a day.

I had ridden the Col du Galibier in 2019, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me riding it again.

The forecast was for a hot day, so I planned an early start.

Having the full force of the sun on you during a long day is rarely a good idea.

A Saturday climb of the popular Cols is not my preference as the roads will be busy, but yesterday, I needed the easy option.

Time to be a carrot and chase a carrot.


Settled down nicely

A 12+% opening gradient up the 12Km climb of the Col du Telegraphe from Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne really woke the legs up.

As the gradient settled to 8% everything seemed fine.

With the Col du Galibier in my thoughts, I conserved energy and rode sensibly.

Even at my steady pace, I was soon passing many riders.

My steady pace took me past many riders and the Brompton of course drew a few comments.

I think they were well intentioned (but you never know).


There already?

With so many riders on the road, there was always someone in front to focus on and the Kms soon whipped by.

So quick, in fact, it surprised when the summit came into view.

Opposite the ‘must stop’ summit marker, the café was busy with many riders milling around the signs.

As per script, the Brompton drew many curious glances, but no contact, of course.


Next stop Valloire

I didn’t stop any longer than I needed to. The Col du Galibier was waiting.

It was a short gentle drop to the busy town of Valloire from the Col du Tetlegrpahe and the Valloire town square was busy with tourists and cyclists.

Conveniently, the town had many water fountains and as I had already emptied 2/3rd of one 900ml bottle; I was grateful for the opportunity to refill before the Col du Galibier.

The climb starts just out of the town at a gentle 4% then slowly winds up to 6-7% before easing back after 5Km.

Brompton Derny

At this point I had a group of riders on my wheel, which I thought was odd (A Brompton Derny setting the pace for these ‘professionals’ – whatever next?).

They stuck behind me for a Km then drifted by me with no acknowledgements.

I was quite happy to let them go. I had a comfortable rhythm and wanted to keep it.

At the 8Km they overtook me again??

I don’t know what happened or where they went to. They must have made a pit stop out of my view.

As before, they slowly drifted by.

On both occasions, they uttered no response to my “Bonjour”.

Catch that wheel!

Within a couple of Kms, I was reeling them by just maintaining my pace as the gradient picked up a headwind came into play.

If I could catch a wheel, then life would be sweet.

A slight hold up on the roads in front and success.

I was on and a nice easier 2Km followed, but then I realised I was easing off.

Returning to my original pace, I moved up to the front of the ‘peloton’.

To my surprise, they didn’t respond as I pulled away.

I was now solo as another wheel to catch neared me.

This was great.

This wheel was not so easy to hang onto without going into the red.

By now, a sizeable gap had opened between me and the other group of riders.

Oh no you’re not!

They had now picked up the pace, but my thoughts were, “You’re not going to catch me this time”.

I kept my pace up and the gap. “YES, Brompton power”.

As expected, the summit was choc-a-bloc.

Every type of vehicle was there and people queueing for a photo by the sign.

Then, unexpectedly, a rider came over to me and asked if it was difficult climbing on the Brompton.

Tempted as I was to say a few words, I opted to explaining that I have the gears set up so I could spin more, which helped.

Then, like buses, another rider came over and parked his Colnago next to my Brompton and said that they had tried to catch me but couldn’t. “

“Awesome!” I thought.


Merrily descending but seeing pain

Returning down to Valloire was an adrenaline fuelled descent and so many photo opportunities.

From Valloire, the climb up the Col du Telegraphe is an easy ascent and, as before, the summit was a busy place.

This time, however, many riders had numbered tickets on their handlebars.

Apparently, they were taking part in a two-day Cyclomontagne Brevet, and this was day one.

As I descended, I passed over a hundred riders ascending.

They were in very different states.

Some rode competently while some were struggling and weaving across the road.

Where the gradient was 6% some were even walking their bikes.

I thought to myself that if on day one they were walking 6% and the Galibier is waiting for them, then it’s going to be a long, long day.

I’m not sure some will make it.

Do people really know what they are signing up for when they take on such events?

Hope you made it.