So this post is being upadated from back in Geneva after the trip--the small french towns we stayed in did not have any available internet to travellers for a number of reasons 1) None of the hotels provided wireless 2) We think it was a holiday Weekend and none of the cafes were open 3) We stayed in some ski resorts and it is in between seasons so most stuff us shut down. Anyways I will provide a paragraph and lots of photos of each stage in one long post.
A quick summary--730km of riding in 7 days, 32 actual hours on our bike, approximately 17,000 meters of climbing, 18,000 meters of descending, with no flat tires, and one minor crash. Enjoy.
Day 2 Martigny, Switzerland to Aosta, Italy 97km
That morning we started at the start line for the Tour de France this year (photo below) and we headed out of Martigny directly into a 13 km climb up steep incline. After about an hour of climbing we reached a small ski lift peak that I cannot remember the name of. After a really cool and steep decent we had some lunch and then started out for the Col Grand St Bernhard, basically a 25km climb. After the fact most of us agreed this was the toughest climb of the trip. The Tour guys climbed up it this year and the last 6km is straight up, I mean straight up. The fact is that you cannot describe this riding to anyone properly, you have to experience it for yourself. It was a really tough day for me with 40km of climbing; the reward for this was over 30 minutes of descending, crazy stuff we got up to 85km an hour on our bikes. Start in Martigny Crossing from France into Italy at the top of the St Bernhard
Day 3 Aosta, Italy to Val d'Isere 115 km
Today was another climb/descend day--the theme of our rides. The landscape was breathtaking and we headed up the Col Petite St Bernhard through a ski resort of La Thuile (10km climb) and then tackled another 16km to the Petite STB and then on to Val d'Isere. I felt much better today, my climbing legs came back to me and I led the group into PSTB. It was really cool when we finally rolled into VDI, we came around the corner and stumbled on an end of the year party for a small pub. Within 2 minutes we had beers on the deck in sunshine with massive peaks all around us. One of the highlights of the trip for sure.
La Thuile 10 after a 10 km climb, the tour went through there this year
en route to Val d'Isere
climbing to VDI
Dam on the way to VDI
arriving in VDI
beers in VDI
Day 4 Val d'Isere to Valloire 90km
So we started this day with a 17km climb out of Val d'Isere. The road zig zagged back and forth as we gained altitude to one of the higher peaks of our trip 2770 meters the Col d'Iseran. The climb out of VDI was absolutely stunning. As a group our legs are getting used to these massive climbs, it is amazing how much altitude you gain and you really notice it when you descend down the other side and realize that you climbed all of that. I tried to film a part of a descent but with only my back brakes on I was still going 18km an hour around haripin turns--not a good idea when there are no gaurdrails on the side of the road and you are done if you go over the edge! We had some lunch in St-Michel-de-Maurienne and then headed up another 17km to Valloire. Three of the group took off part way up and it turned into a bit of a race to the top. What a climb--at times we were going 15km up 8% incline. My legs were burning the last 6km big time but Josh and I got to the top first--it is all mental at some points you just cannot stop pedalling. We rolled down 4km at the end into the small ski resort of Valloire--a picturesque village to say the least.
no explanation needed
Climbing the Col-d'Iseran out of Val d'Isere
In Valloire after 34km of climbing
Main street in Valloire. we headed up this way out of town the next day
Day 5 Valloire to Guillestre 105km
We climbed out of Valloire to tackle the Col du Galibier to 2645 m. This is called the roof of the Tour de France because it has come through here many times. It was really neat to see some of the old writing on the road urging on riders who are not even pro's anymore along with the current crop. The climb was steep and the descent even steeper (photos below). After lunch we then tackled Col d'Izoard 2360 m, a fun climb where we ran into two Austrian riders doing a similar trip to us but with no support car, just their bikes and clothes on their backs. My legs felt really good on this last climb so I hit it pretty hard. This day we did the equivalent of 4 Mount Seymour's of climbing and descending. Lots of pictures below.
These signs marked out km and grade left to the top 9% !!!
Dalts at the Tour de France roof
Group on the roof
what we climbed up
Climb #2 this day
Trying to show you the angle of descent--notice the old tour writing on the road
the road down
Dinner after two huge climbs
Day 6 Guillestre to St Etienne de Tinee 95km
Since we have extended some days and done extra km's we only had a smaller climb to start this day; but finished with a climb up Cime de la Bonette--the highest elevation we rode up to on the trip. This climb was hands down the most impressive of the trip--25km up with the last km so steep you could not sit down and pedal--only standing would work. We were so high and in the open that it was actually cold climbing up and I had to put on a shirt. The satisfaction I felt hitting the top was neat--after 2.5 hours of unrelenting climbing (after already climbing an 8km peak earlier in the day). Even more fun was the descent down into St Etienne--45 minutes of downhill. We had to stop and rest part way down!! Lots of photos below:
Before the biggest climb yet, with Nice in our sights
view on the climb up Bonette
You can see the road we came up--notice we are well above the tree line
Last 1/2 km to the top, notice the incline 10.2% I could not do it sitting down.
Group shot at the top
Dalts and Nils at the top. My legs are bigger
Day 7 St Etienne de Tinee to Nice 91 km
It was all down hill to Nice. We rode as a pelleton and averaged 40km an hour into Nice. This really put into perspective how fast the Tour de France riders do it--this is the average for the whole race for them including the climbing--simply incredible. Compared to some of the mountain peaks we had been at the ride into the warm Mediterranean air was awesome. We hammered into the city and rode straight to the beach to jump in the Mediterranean Sea. All told we did 730km of riding in 7 days, 32 actual hours on our bike, approximately 17,000 meters of climbing, 18,000 meters of descending, with no flat tires, and one minor crash. I have done lots of amazing trips in my life but this is one of the best, hands down.
Ride into Nice. I took alot of self portraits and video this trip..
Rolling in along the beach
the beach we jumped in the Sea at
The crew including our driver Thomas
I think i am trying to puff my chest out??
The only way to roll into Nice, wine for water....