Following in the footsteps…
Earlier this month Euan Ritchie and JB spent a week cycling some of the iconic Tour De France climbs in the Alps. This was Euan’s first real holiday in more years than he cared to remember! Being based in Bourg D’Oisans at the foot of Alpe D’Huez was perfect for daily inspiration by majestic mountain scenery and access to quality cycling routes in all 4 main directions of the compass, heading up and over cols with names familiar to any Tour fan. Even the many 5 to 7km no name ‘warm up’ climbs would be tough on their own without the Cat 1 and HC ascents following them.
Over the 5 days cycling, it was Alpe D’Huez at the end of day 1, The Cols du Glandon and Croix de Fer day 2, Col de Lauteret and Galibier day 3 (charging 40k home off the Galibier to beat an approaching biblical thunder storm), The Col D’Ornon and spectating The Dauphine Libere at La Mure finished by a mental 5km 12% descent on the main N85 road into Vizille (we missed our right turn at Laffrey!) on cycling day 4, then the Oisan’s Balcony road, the Col de Sarenne, Alpe D’Huez from the back and Villard Reculas on day 5. In between times Euan was introduced to the new concepts (to him) of a recovery ride and cafe stop on the ‘rest day’ midweek.
The weather was fantastic for the whole week, with thunder and rain only appearing to ‘clear the air’ during 2 evenings. Cycling in 30+ degree heat with few clouds in the sky, even at high altitude, was way tougher than expected and the combination of heat and height meant that hydration was crucial. Every Scottish town and village should have a drinkable fountain or spring for bottle refill! Mind you it would probably just end up a foot bath, bird bath or a public loo?
If you ever get the chance to spend time road cycling in the Alps you could do a lot worse that book with More Than 21 Bends (see Cyclist mag issue 12) and have them lead you around the best the region has to offer. They also do trips to Belgium, Mont Ventoux and into the Italian alps. The best job in the world? I think it just might be.