Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Alps Trip Day 6 - The defile de Maupas to Valloire

Today the weather really arrived as it should. The ride up the Col de Glandon and over to the Col de la Croix de Fer was under a warm Sun. The views from both were grand, especially from the Col de la Croix de Fer. The difference with the earlier wooded cols of the Vercors and Chartreuse and the ones of today was purely due to height, in the place of forest there were alpine meadows. I find the former a bit forbidding and closed while the latter open, with the highlands I know that I have worked to get there and savour it even more as a result.

On the way up to Col de Glandon I passed right beside a marmot, who didn't notice me immediately, though to soon for me to get a photo of him. Nevertheless I got a good look at him as he trundled, though not really so good to know for sure that it was a 'he'.

The way down was not as 'down' as it normally would be due to the closure of the tunnels on the main road. Instead another col was our fate, the Col du Mollard. Not so spectacular but a nice quiet road. Then all the altitude gained yesterday afternoon and this morning were burned in a long succession of switchbacks which dropped me in the valley.

At this point I was suffering, today hadn't been tough but yesterday had been. If I accepted such a concept, a rest day would have been a good idea. It wasn't the last time that I considered this. Of course it was out of the question at least this time, though a mental note was made.

Though I was only in the valley for 10kms it wasn't fun. It was hot and dry and there wasn't a nice quiet route through. I had to follow the main highway for a while. There weren't many cars but I hated the feeling of being on such a large road. I was feeling beaten even before starting the Col de Télégraphe. The climb wasn't tough, just a whole bunch of forested switchbacks from the valley at 750m to the col. I arrived at the cafe at the top just in time to see the end of the stage into Courchevel, one by Valverde with Armstrong a very close second.

In Valloire, on the other side of the pass the tourism of the Tour was in full swing with the town decked out in yellow and a band playing in the main square. I really wanted a shower and figured that my only show was to 'luck in' at the campsite. The sign said 'complet' at the gate but I figured that if there was anything suitable for my hammock it would unlikely be considered suitable for a tent anyway so went ahead and explained my situation to the boss. I scoped the campsite and found 2 suitably distant trees, unfortunately they weren't in an out-of-the-way place and the guy ropes provided a tempting target to tweak by kids passing. Even so I slept quite well, each night is better as I get used to my accommodation, though the jury is still out on the hammock.

Distance - 83km
Time - 6:12
Max Altitude - 2064m
Tot. Ascent - 2272m

Col de Glandon – 1924m
Col de Croix de Fer – 2064m
Col du Mollard – 1638m
Col du Télégraphe – 1570m

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