Days Days 7 & 8

Trip Start May 22, 2011
1
13
18
Trip End Jun 06, 2011


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Where I stayed
Porte Coulombe
What I did
Cycled and climbed vol3

Flag of France  , Provence,
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My apologies for the break yesterday.  The hotel in Bourg d'Oisans did not  have wifi.  It did not actually have much of anything other than well used beds and hot water.  The place was incredibly run down and while the staff was pleasant I would recommend that anyone going to that town NOT stay at the hotel Milan!  Not sure how it retains a two star rating.  Anyway it is the only hotel which has not exceeded our expectations on the trip
Because of the predicted weather ( my golfing buddies will attest that we have always had good weather on our trips - I think my luck just ran out), we departed Barraux at 7 with the intention of getting as much riding in as possible before the rain started.  As predicted the rain started about 11:30, and it rained steadily all day.  Fortunately the distance was only 85 kms, but we all arrived completely soaked and frozen.  Bourg d"Oisans is also the foot of the Alpes de Huez, a very famous climb here in France.  There actually is a race up the hill which is about 15 km long.  I believe the record is something just less than 30 min.  After a shower etc, Dave and Linda put their wet cycling clothes back on to give it a shot.  They are both strong climbers, yet it took them just under 2 hours to make the climb.  Their description of the ride suggests to me that I would not have made it - very steep pitches, especially after a 85 km ride in the rain.  Their descent in the rain was a less than wonderful experience.  We met them on arival  and they were shaking so hard they could hardly speak.  I have added a couple of pictures from Linda's camera.  One of them shows Dave at switchback 10 - halfway - there are 21 switchbacks..  We had a nice dinner in a local restaurant along with half of a huge group of Dutch cyclists who had arrived to do the Alps de Huez.  I regret that the weaqther was so miserable that I did not take any pictures.

This morning, we had decided to start early again because the day started with a 700 M climb in the first 10km.  It was not actually raining until we turned the first pedal stroke.  Rowe and I cycled together today.  We roared up the hill at a steady pace of 8 kph!  It took us about 90 min to get up to the Col d"Ornon (1367M).  It rained steadily all the way up until just before we arrived at the summit, it turned to snow.  There was a nice little restaurant there where we stopped for something warm.  The proprietor advised us that the temp outside was +2C, and that the  weather was unlikely to change all day.  After two hot chocolates, I put on everything I had with me which meant bootees, shorts and tights, and seven layers on top, including two yellow cycling jackets and my rain jacket.  Unfortunately my cross country ski gloves were in my bag.  We headed down the other side in the snow and because of the steepness of the descent, we had to be constantly braking.  I lost all feelings in my fingers very early, but could not let go of the brakes - it was quite a hairy descent.  The weather then began to improve and it was actually quite nice when we got to Gap - having climbed yet another Col Bayard. The descent into Gap included some 12% grades so once again heavy breaking.  About 10 km before Gap, we had paused on a hill.  I have trouble clipping in on the right side especially going up hill, so I turned to go slowly down the hill - I then turned into the garage area where we had stopped, hit gravel and went down like a stone.No injury to me, but my chain was off and when I put it back on I discovered that one of the links had broken.  I very gingerely cycled the rest of the way into Gap and immediatly went to a bike store.  The mechanic measured the chain and found it badly stretched.  I now have a brand new chain and new brake pads. 
Must say that I thought my climbing would be getting stronger, but I spent most of today in my granny gear.  I discoverd at dinner that I am not the only one having this experience so maybe these have been tougher climbs.
Interesting experiencing the different highways in France.  Today we spent most of the day on an N highway ands it was fine, and certainly much less busy than some of the D highways.  I think you have to have experienced these roads to really understand which ones will be busy and which will have trucks.
Tomorrow we have 133km to do to Greoux Les bains.  The day starts with a very steep climb, but should then be a gentle downhill for the next 90 km.  We have also just discovered that tomorrow is a national holiday so we are not certain what we will find open.  We may be existing on energy bars!
My apologies that some of the pictures are sideways.  I can turn them on the computer but as soon as I upload them to the blog they revert to sideways.  If anyone knows how to fix this, please let me know
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Comments

Yvon on

Wow, altough I was envious up to now, days 7&8 sound more like survival than fun! Good for you guys, as you still appear to be smiling.

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