A truly stunning day in the Alps today.
Julian and I started early from Grenoble and headed south and then up the valley towards Bourg d’Oisans. We turned left at Rochetaillé and took on the mighty climb up to the Col du Glandon and the Col de la Croix de Fer.
The premise for this trip was a Marmotte Recce for me and a first taste of Alpine cycling for Julian. Chapeau indeed to the man who’s first Alpine Col was to be the Croix de Fer.
The weather was perfect, not too warm at the bottom, not too hot at the top. The climbing was hard, especially the section out of Rivier d’Allemont which involved a demoralising hurtle down several hairpins as we saw our hard-earned metres of elevation fall away in front of us, followed by a tough and steep section o regain them again.
Once we reached the Lac de Grand Maison we’d broken the back of it and despite the headwind the last few miles to the snow covered Col were a joy.
Given that this is the first and ‘easiest’ of the climbs I’ll face in a few weeks time on the Marmotte, I’m now a little more daunted by the prospect.
I left Julian at the point as I fancied another Col (Col d’Ornon) before heading back and thoroughly enjoyed the exhilarating hurtle back down the way we’d come.
The Col d’Ornon was a bit of an anti-climax of the magnificence of the Croix de Fer but I’m glad I got as many miles in as possible while I was in the neighbourhood.
On the way back the wind had picked up an awful lot and the lovely descent back to Vizille we’d been looking forward to for most of the day turned out to be quite a slog.
Luckily I hooked up with another cyclist and we quickly, in silence, established a rhythm of turns at the front thanks to the international language of cycling. Later on we actually attempted conventional verbal communication, ie he spoke English, and it turned out Francois was also in the area on Marmotte Recce.
He seemed as daunted as me.