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Bourg d'Oisans - June 2017

Discussion in 'Member's Travelogues' started by Winnershsaint, 20 Jul 2017.

  1. OP
    OP
    Winnershsaint

    Winnershsaint Über Member

    Day 6 - Rain, rain go away! No really rain. GO AWAY!! RAIN..... F**K-OFF!!!!!

    Title sums it up really. What fell on Wednesday afternoon was still falling on Thursday for most of the day. It was all getting a bit tedious and we'd exhausted all that Bourg d'Oisans had to offer.

    After his shortened day R2 set off early and went solo to the Lauteret and back. Impressive riding in dirty weather while T and N went one better and continued all they way to the top of the Galibier. Chapeau to all of them. D had a day off. Not surprising after his double Alpe exploits while the rest of us sat around and twiddled our thumbs. P weakened first and did one of his lost to history rides. I think he went to Oz-en-Oisans and somewhere else and both J and R1 went eventually out towards La Bararde. That left A who eventually duplicated what J had done the previous day and got cold and wet on Les Deux Alpes, and me. In truth the weather although wet would have been no problem with the right kit. I put on everything I had: base layer, arm and leg warmers, my thickest of the thin bibs and top I had brought with me and topped it off with my lightweight sort of watery/windy proof pac-a -jacket and full fingered gloves. I was wet in double quick time as I headed towards the D530 turn to St Christophe-en-Oisans intending to go as least as far as Venosc. The road heads into a rocky cleft that wouldn't be out of place in Middle Earth. In reality it is far less prosaic than that with all the quarry wagons joining me on the road, at odds with the wild and beautiful scenery. I wasn't exactly climbing, but it was a nagging false flat with slightly steeper interludes. The rain was falling heavily by now not only was I wet I was cold as well. My feet in particular. How I wished I'd brought my waterproof softshell jacket and overshoes with me, unfortunately they were in a drawer in Berkshire, over a 1100km away. Eventually I was cold enough to consider going back. I was half an hour from base and the weather wasn't improving in any way shape or form. My mind was made up when first J went past me on the opposite direction and then R1. I double backed and got on R1's wheel and followed him down what was now a thoroughly miserable, albeit gentlish descent. Back on the flat I ignored the turn for home and went as far as the turn to Allemont and then decided that I was utterly fed up having cold feet and went back.

    Another somewhat wasted day came to a close with then promise of better weather for our last riding day. I'd decided on Les Deux Alpes.
     
  2. Norry1

    Norry1 Veteran

    Location:
    Warwick
    awaiting the next episode :smile:

    The road to la Barade is lovely by the way.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Winnershsaint

    Winnershsaint Über Member

    Day 7 - Les Deux Alpes

    Glory be! The sun was shining! At breakfast everyone exchanged their last day riding plans in the knowledge that this was the last chance saloon, at least until 2019. R1 and R2 got in their cars and drove to Mizoen and the Col du Lauteret respectively. A decided that the Izoard via Briancon was the order of the day and N and T were heading out to Les Deux Alpes and planning a bit more besides. D, refreshed by his rest day went off on an epic ride starting with the Sarenne, before dropping down via Villard Reculas, then on into the Ornon and up to Villard Reymond. From there all that remained was the Alpe. J went the opposite way to Sechilienne and from there up over the Col du Morte/Grande Serre before completing the loop with the Col d'Ornon from south. P whose ride, in keeping with the rest of the trip, is lost forever, might have gone to Oz-en-Oisans and then to Villard Reymond but we'll never know.

    So that left me. Had the weather been good my ride of choice on the Wednesday would have been Les Deux Alpes so it was one I wanted to tick off. Out on the valley road I met up with some Danish riders, searching for the Col du Glandon. Hmmm! Hopefully they were less lost when I pointed them in the right direction. As I passed the D530 junction the climbing began. It was actually categorised on the Dauphine this year the Cote de Garcin. Four kilometres at an average of 7-8% gave it Cat 2 status, and it's certainly a stiff test. The first kilometre or so takes you high above the Clapier dam and reservoir and to the end of the first and longest tunnel on the route. As with most climbs the average gradient hides the detail, as it gets into double figures in places before the tunnel. The gradient in the tunnel itself is much less severe, but it is 600 metres long and although it can't be used by through traffic to Briancon there are still heavy quarry trucks and considerable volumes of local traffic that use it. About half-way through one of the trucks went past me. The noise that preceded it was deafening and the wind it generated was unexpected enough almost to push be into the high roadside kerb. As I neared the end, another louder engine roar could be heard. My imagination ran riot as I I speculated how large the truck would be as it got louder and louder. Not daring to turn round and look in case I wobbled as it approached I was passed by three Lambretta type scooters with Italian number plates on, and then it was silent once more.

    Back in sunlight the road continued to climb for a further three kilometers or so. On this stretch a side road bears off to the right marking the D220. There is nothing to say where the road goes, but it offers an alternative way up the bottom part of Les Deux Alpes providing you have a head for heights, as it has a stretch of balcony road before it joins the main route up to the ski-resort. Not wanting to test my head for heights I remained on the D1091 instead. Eventually I began to descend into Le Freney-d'Oisans, down through a second shorter tunnel into the village. Any respite is short lived however as the moment you hit the crown of the sharp right hander in the centre you are climbing once more generally at around 6 to 8%.

    A couple of kilometres further on through two short tunnels I reached the Chambon Dam and the turn to Les Deux Alpes. There was a small parking area at the bottom overlooking the dam and the Lac du Chambon where T was stood on his own, waiting at the bottom for N who was evidently still descending. We had a brief chat and anxious not to repeat my feeding exploits on Alpe d'Huez I had a leisurely energy bar this time before I started climbing. T told me that it was about an hour from the spot we were in or thereabouts and with bar consumed I set off.

    The first hundred metres or so is steep, double figures steep in fact, but it doesn't last for long. I passed the D1091 relief road built to take light traffic past the closed Chambon Tunnel and settled into it. There are ten bends in total on the climb to LDA and like on its nearby famous neighbour each is numbered. In keeping with Alpe d'Huez the road surface is good and the gradients rarely consistent. Between bends for and five is the village of Mont-de-Lans. I mention this if only because I was actually ascending the Alpe De Mont-de-Lans which along with L'Alpe de Venosc gives the ski resort its name.

    I was climbing much better on Les Deux Alpes which I felt very much mimicked the middle part of Alpe d'Huez than I had been on the previous Tuesday. Looking at speeds over similar distances and gradients illustrates this. A ten percent 1.1 kilometre stretch on Les Deux Alpes at over 9kph a similar distance between bend 7 and 6 on Alpe d'Huez over a similar gradient at 7kph. You could argue that the figures are not directly comparable but the amount of climbing I'd completed to the point where the LDA stretch started was not too dissimilar from that on Ad'H between bends 6 and 7. It was certainly a kilometre and a half more distant. That said Les Deux Alpes benefits as a climb by being shorter and psychologically I think that enabled me to go that bit harder, plus the unrelenting steepness of the early part of the Alpe just takes more out of you.

    Nevertheless, I was pleased with the way I was going, and Just as the hour was about to tick by I was into the town itself. Now LDA is not pretty. It's certainly not like a backdrop to a Heidi movie, but even my inexpert eye could see why it was a great place to ski and to play around with ' the dark side'. (MTBs)
    20423936_1665330680143607_2596686886807482395_o.jpg
    I'd planned to go to L'Alpe de Venosc at the end of the town but the traffic was really heavy and in the end I couldn't be arsed. I alighted to a bakery with cyclists outside, sporting Danish flags and La Marmotte 2017 on their jerseys. Time for a cheese baguette, a selfie and a couple of other photos before I realised I was wasting valuable riding time and decided to head on down.
    20369671_1665331776810164_3157324910797974870_o.jpg .

    20507141_1665330303476978_3155004773748189296_o.jpg
    The long sweeping descent took next to no time, aided and abetted by an excellent road surface and greater confidence on my part, and before I knew it I was back on the D1091. I was half tempted to press on up the Lauteret but in the end I went back the way I came. All went well with it being pretty much all downhill into Freney d'Oisans. Coming out the village, the tunnel this time was uphill, and it was shortly after this I began to have a problem. I'd descended from Les Deux Alps with my pac a mac watery/windproof on and thought nothing of it as far as Freney d'Oisans, but as I went through the uphill tunnel I began to get warm again, too warm in fact, so I decided to pull into a lay by and take it off. A few pedal strokes after restarting and I became aware of a squidging sensation coming from the rear wheel. I'd got a flat. Whether or not I'd picked up something in the lay by or on the way up to LDA where there were a couple of stretches towards the top where glass was on the road I don't know. Fortunately, just round the bend from the lay by was a proper pull in spot not dissimilar to those you see on the motorway network in France between the bigger service stations. I did the business quickly and checked the tyre for any protrusions, before tightening up the valve core and putting the pump on. Hmm, nothing going in, so I unscrewed the pump only to find the valve core jammed hard into it. With nothing to remove it I was a bit stymied, but a passing rider stopped to help. He was Dutch or at a pinch Belgian. Salvaging the valve core from the damaged tube and a canister of Co2 later I was back on the road, thanks to him. He asked if I was doing the Marmotte but I explained I was too old and too slow, he said he was slow, but not so old and he was doing it. Maybe next year, he said in parting. From there on it was a short climb to the top of the Cote de Garcin and then a speedy descent back to the valley road once more. The Clapier Tunnel still needed to be negotiated, but at least this time it was downhill. I entered it at sufficient speed for my photochromic Oakleys to spectacularly fail to adjust to the light change. Some of the lights were out in the tunnel and this effectively had me riding blindly at 50kph on a bending tunnel with a stream of traffic coming past.

    With my tyre still holding I made the decision to continue riding on past the Alpe d'Huez roundabout and on to Allemont. At the outset I had planned to see how I felt initially and had it in my mind to finish my week off either with the climb to Villard Reculas and the Pas de Confession before descending Ad'H from Huez village or going out and back to Oz-en Oisans. However with no spare tube, discretion became the better part of valour and reluctantly I satisfied myself with a PR up the dam at Allemont where I actually caught some other cyclists on a climb. From there it was a final time up to La Beurry and the drop back to the Allemont road. It transpired that I'd taken three and a half minutes of my previous best of the Allemont Dam Loop, which was highly satisfying and went part way to tempering my disappointment at not finishing with either of my planned climbs. I was done!
     
    Last edited: 30 Jul 2017
  4. Norry1

    Norry1 Veteran

    Location:
    Warwick
    Great write-up. Takes me back there :smile:
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Winnershsaint

    Winnershsaint Über Member

    Thanks! I hope people have enjoyed what is a very personal view of our time in France, and hope that what I have written is at least to some extent readable and hopefully doesn't come across as pompous sheeite!
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Winnershsaint

    Winnershsaint Über Member

    I have a shed load of Go-Pro footage. My editing skills are woeful. When I get some help with this I will put links up. In the meantime, if you're thinking of doing it, DO IT!!!!