It’s raining today, not heavy rain, but persistent and actually quite refreshing. After nearly seven months of the stuff through Autumn and Winter you’d think I’d be fed up with it, but in a way today I’m really enjoying it!
For some reason it’s reminding me of those road trip days when I get up, it’s raining and there is no choice but to ride in it…and I’ve suddenly realised that I actually like riding in the rain, a bit, except when the road gets slippery and I can’t see where I’m going! I like the way low cloud brushes over the hills and through high forests and woodland and the gossamer strands of the cloud tell you that there’s wet road ahead, yeah I like it!
With the continuing World-Wide pandemic of Coronavirus, there are definitely wet roads ahead…but sometimes it’s the crap in life that makes people realise exactly how much good they have.
Lets go to the French Alps…
Sit in L’Entrique bar in Bourg St Maurice and take in the scene.
Bourg is a buzzing town deep in the French Alps. In winter it’s the hub of snow sports, whilst summer sees culture and nature taking over.
In the evening, there will be live music in L’Entrique, often driving rock with great guitar riffs. The food is good and the staff friendly. During the day, outside meal times, it’s a nice place to grab a coffee and chill.
Then walk outside and climb on your bike. Hit the starter, let the engine warm and then kick in first gear, hang a left onto the wonderful D902 and head for the sky!
50 kilometres Southwest lies Col de l’Iseran, at 2770m/9087ft the highest true paved Pass in Europe.
It’s a funny road from Bourg, wide and fast in places, tight in others.
There are tunnels; I hate tunnels, mostly.
The road climbs, relentlessly.
All the time are the views; ahead the expanding peaks, on each side the valley moving in, tightening, the river being pressed into a gorge.
Near Tignes is the hydroelectric dam, a dichotomy of natural beauty and intrusive industrial architecture.
More tunnels; then comes the famous ski station of Val d’Isere, which like many of the Alpine ski resorts largely slumbers during summer months.
Probably the best thing about the place is the road out…
…and what a road it now is.
Forget the previous 33 kilometres; you had to ride that to deserve this!
The road climbs and climbs and climbs. It narrows and things begin to get serious.
We are above the tree line now. The views open impressively.
The gradient shifts ever upwards, 2.8%, 5%, 8% then for the last 7k to an average of 10%.
There are hairpins, but not in any great number, just a relentless gradient like driving up a wall.
The air is thin, a carburettor motorcycle like Harls begins to struggle; how the cyclists cope is beyond my comprehension!
Just below the summit are a couple of sharp switchbacks, “Lacets,”
the French call them.
The wind always blows here and adds to the stunning views to literally take your breath away.
I like to park away from anyone else and find a solitary place.
A place to take in the view and reflect.
A place to find peace.
A place to give thanks.
A place to reach out and touch the face of God.
A place to return to soon.
“Lazy days and sunny rays will guide me
Back home where I belong”
Catch you soon,