Wrong and fooled again.
My incorrect thinking was that if the Grand Ballon is a 6/10, and it’s nearly twice as long at as the Ballon d’Alsace which was also a 6/10 then it must be an easier gradient.
Wrong (of course).
The climb starts at a gentle 2% then pops up to 4%.
Already my legs weren’t enjoying this so soon after the Alsace.
The climb then rose to 11% then joyfully played around a more consistent 8% region.
My legs, however, appreciated this consistency and I settled down to a steady low gear cadence of 70rpm.
It was still boiling and humid ride and after a few Kms it was time to lose the sweat fogged sunglasses.
A Km marker shortly appeared.
I strained to see what number it was.
It looked double digit through my out-of-focus squint, but as I closed in it read 8Km – woohoo. Not too far now.
The next marker displayed 9Km – what???
Yep, fallen for that old trick, yet again. The markers counted the distance travelled rather than left. Oh, deep joy.
Bring back Madame Guillotine
Fighting to keep the sweat out of my eyes, I rode up to a hairpin nightmare.
Before me was a genuine reason to use the guillotine on someone.
Who on earth thought it was a good idea to use cobbles on a hairpin bend?
Not once, but twice.
The Brompton clattered over them, and I swore my displeasure at this delight.
This was getting to the stage of not being just a climb anymore, it was a fight.
My next opponents, flies.
They seem to like a certain altitude and to swarm cyclists that dare to enter their patch.
Despite my futile attempts, it seemed impossible to despatch a telling swipe on the little ‘blighters’.
With the distraction of the flies now gone, I looked, and I could see a large radar dome in the distance.
The marker read 1Km, but I thought if the radar is at the top then the forthcoming gradient is going to be wall.
I watched my Garmin as it slowly counted down the final metres to the end point, which, like Alsace, was a thriving Café Society.
Deep conversations and tea towels
A few chapeaus for the Brompton which was nice and then it was the inevitable question moment, “Is it electric?”. I carefully replied.
I joined the café set for a double espresso to recover my ordeal and chat to some Dutch riders.
A few words about the Brompton, then a conversation about Brexit. Our opinions agreed.
I duly took photos before the rattling descent over the nice cobbles and the race to catch the local Aldi before it closed.
Washing powder and tea towels wait for no man.