First and second thoughts
Ride the Courchevel, that was first thought when I woke.
Possibly an auto suggestion after reading the Tour de France updates late last night.
It’s potentially a big stage in the tour and the road should be pristine and ready.
However, there was a niggle in my head.
As I looked through the information I had, but I could see no issues, then I checked my Garmin route for the segment.
I am truly grateful for whatever made me think of this. Riding the segment wrong wouldn’t have counted and left a dejected cyclist calmly controlling his emotions.
My route takes in three villages before reaching its destination at Courchevel. Saint-Bon and Courchevel le Praz are easy to get through, but Courchevel Village has a nice, wide by-pass.
The actual segment avoids the nice bypass and goes through the village.
The road has a poor surfaced and a steep 10% gradient before rejoining the principal route at the end of the by-pass.
I routed originally with the by-pass.
I checked the routes that other riders had successfully registered and yes, through the village they went.
Ok, route amended and an enormous sigh of relief at spotting this.
14Kms = 22Kms
Locating the start was not a problem.
Tour de France banners, flags and jersey posters made it obvious.
Up ahead was the first iconic yellow and white Km marker, proudly declaring 22Km.
What, the whole Courchevel climb is less than 14Km???
I carried on, and although convinced I was on the right road, a slight doubt niggled me.
As the next marker appeared, I studied it, closer this time.
The marker referred to the Col de Loze which after the Courchevel.
This amazed me.
This could be a pivotal climb in the Tour de France and one that people might want to ride.
Surely it should have its own mention.
Keep right on to the end of the road
The council graffiti “Courchevel” adorned the road, and my Garmin confirmed the end point was closing.
Forget the signs and accept it as correct in my mission.
As I progressed up the road, I could literally smell the money invested here, however it seemed like the budget for the road had run out.
The road surface was less than pristine, with many cracks and deeply sunk manhole covers.
The climb itself takes on mostly of 7-8% with touches of 10% which is all fine, then I come to the junction – by-pass or village.
I know which one, and although the by-pass looks so obvious, it is the village route I take.
The gradient on a rough road is a killer of 10-11%.
The village, like the others already passed, is a ghost town.
This is a winter resort, so no snow means no people, and no business.
I hoped that the village road would not drop in elevation, but it did. I dislike giving up elevation on a climb.
Back on the main route with a 7% gradient and ahead, like the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz, stood Courchevel.
No signs, no ceremony, just empty ski lifts going up and down and Michael Jackson being played on a Tannoy by the Bowling Alley.
It was like some post-apocalyptic scene where everyone had suddenly left town.
Photos of vistas were few until about halfway down, and that was it for Courchevel.
I tried to prop my Brompton against the Tourist Information Office doors, and they opened automatically because it was the only place open.
Courchevel probably looks great when the snow covers everything up.
The non-cycling part of the day.
Feeling peckish and slightly dissatisfied by the climb (incidentally 6th in the old gits Strava table – 65-69).
I contemplated another climb but discounted that when I saw the car was reading 38C. Early day and some food shopping then.
Conveniently there was a supermarche on my routes, and it was there that I discovered the Holy Grail.
The secret to riding in the Big Mountain.
Breakfast Stout which must surely beat electrolyte.
Next to my campsite in Queige is a village field where the local pizza van parks up. A pizza seemed a good idea, so I took a venture.
The field was noisy and bustling; it was local market day.
Not a traditional British market. There was no phone unlocking or trainers for sale here. It was all fresh produce and locally made goods.
Even the burger van was using local beef, locally made bread and home-made mayonnaise.
Pizza can wait, the burgers looked great and when paired with a local IPA, it sold me.
I sat at a quiet table where I thought I would be out of the way and in the shade.
No sooner had I tucked in when several brightly dressed people congregated in front of me. Hmmm.
Then it all became all too obvious as the brass band struck up playing for all they were worth to an appreciative audience.
The sight of the brass band and someone wearing a burger in the background must have been a delight.
What an odd but enjoyable day.