Today is the day we went to Alpe D’Huez about a 3 hour drive from here. We went via Gap and through some impressive scenery, thanks to ‘Sally’. You really do see much more of the country than you would just by navigating by the map from town to town especially when abroad I guess when all is a little unfamiliar. I would certainly never have gone the way we did.
Before we got to the ‘Alpe’ it was quite cloudy but I wasn’t too worried as I knew by the time we got to the top we would be through the clouds and into sunshine, I’ve seen it so many times on TV. AS we approached it was an awesome sight such a huge mountain. In among many more mountains equally as impressive but without the status.
As soon as we started the climb we were passing lots of cyclists fulfilling their dream to conquer the mountain. I must say I would love to have joined them if I was fit enough. It was almost as good just driving up it. !4.5 kilometres of up with an average gradient of 1 in 8 with some sections at 1 in 5. and numerous hairpins each one amounting to a sharp steep kick. You wind your way up from Bourg D’oisins, at first the odd house then through trees. About half way up there is a viewpoint to see back down to Bourg which is quite amazing as it is almost right below you. You carry on up and about two thirds of the way up is the village of Huez. There is still another 5 kilometres to go at this point and you are now out of the trees and just scrub and rocks until near the race finish about 2000 metres above Bourg. The mountain itself goes on up to around 3300 metres.
There is the Alpe d’Huez ski resort around the finish of the stage, most of the ski shops and accommodation are closed now just the odd food shop and a cycle shop open. Apparently the Tour de France isn’t going up there this year. When the race is in the Alps, they are there for 3 or 4 days doing the odd mountain, within a 150 to 200 mile stage which sometimes means up to 6 hours in the saddle, but usually on one day they do about four of these big climbs in one day. They really are fit, and the entire race goes on for 3 weeks with 2 rest days. None of this cant play more than two 90 minute games in a week or we will be too tired !!! Also the season is from March until the end of September.
Better stop going on about it now. It was beautiful up the top in the sunshine, we had a picnic in a meadow by the roadside a little further on from the finish. We could see snow capped mountains all around and there was not a sound nor a single person to be seen.
We set off down and towards ‘home’ but via Briancon to make a circular tour. On the way down we passed many more cyclists of all ages and ability ploughing there way up the mountain. I really must do that sometime !!! or not…
On reaching the bottom we turned left towards Briancon and en-route went over another mountain, the Col De Lauteret, just as high as Alpe D’Huez but a more steady climb and through about 4 or 5 long dark tunnels. We actually found some snow to stand on at the top not far from the road.
We carried on down to the valley and passing various ski resorts on our way to Briancon and eventually to our caravan, about another 40 miles further on which is pretty well at the exit from the big mountains. It certainly was a lot warmer when we got back here. At the top of the Alpe it was about 13C but was up to 26C by the time we got back to our reclining chairs and a beer.. it had been a full day, from 9:30am until 5:15pm. We had got into a habit of going out and about in the mornings and after lunch just relaxing or doing something around here.
The photos are taking too long to insert so just putting in this hyper link for now, Alpe D’Huez it has loads of pictures and info. Will add my pics later when there is a faster connection