Taking it easy up the Galibier

After climbing Mont Ventoux three times in three days we packed up camp and headed to the Alps. We had two days to ourselves, and decided to climb the Galibier on Day 1, and then Alpe d’Huez on Day 2. For the Galibier we rode together and took it relatively easy. We planned to attack Alpe d’Huez the next day and in addition to feeling the strains of the Ventoux we remembered that even though cycling is supposed to be an unenjoyable world of unceasing pain, we were actually on holiday so should try to relax and enjoy ourselves a little. At least for one day.

Over the course of two hours we rode from our campsite at Bourg d’Oisans to the top of the Col du Lautaret. This approximated to a vertical mile of climbing over a distance of around 28 miles, around 3.5% average gradient. There were a series of tunnels, some lit and some completely pitch black and quite scary if traffic entered at the same time. We stopped at the Col du Lautaret for lunch. Tartiflette seemed the most appropriate and calorific option on the menu and was promptly dispatched in quick order.

Steady climb up the Col du Lautaret

Steady climb up the Col du Lautaret

The winding Alpine road passed through several tunnels

The winding Alpine road passed through several tunnels

Lunch was called upon reaching the first summit

Lunch was called upon reaching the first summit

Tart

Tartiflette is made with potatoes, cheese, bacon, onions, cheese and cheese

Refilling bidons with fresh alpine water

Refilling bidons with fresh alpine water

Some of us were relaxed about the climb ahead

Some of us were relaxed about the climb ahead

... while others were trying to drain the lactic acid (and tartiflette) from their system

… while others were trying to drain the lactic acid (and tartiflette) from their system

A good 45 minutes after lunch, we set off to climb the Galibier. This final summit was an additional 5.5 miles at an average gradient of 7%, but with an infamous final kick which ramps up to 12%.

Setting off

Setting off

The temperature dropped as we reached the snow line

The temperature dropped as we reached the snow line

In the clouds and working hard

In the clouds

The summit

The summit

Probably the slowest

Definitely the slowest 32 miles I have ever ridden

The view from the top

The view from the top

Enjoying the descent

Enjoying the descent

Despite temperatures reaching 40 degrees C at the campsite, there was still snow on top of the mountain

Despite temperatures reaching 40 degrees C at the campsite, there was still snow on top of the mountain

Cycling monument

Cycling monument

From the top of the world we were back at the campsite in an hour, having glided our way down the most stunning of roads. The first three hours of climbing was rewarded by an unforgettable hour of exhilarating flying.

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8 thoughts on “Taking it easy up the Galibier

  1. Sandra says:

    Wow. What a hill 😉 Congrats. And, frankly I would walk my bike up that hill for some of that awesomeness that is Tartiflette!! (because I’m horrid at hills, or rather, mountains!).

    Really enjoyed this post!

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