Morning feed…CHECK…kit…CHECK…bike…CHECK…ready to go…CHECK…knowing the route to Columbier…not a chance!!!
Left the house at 0745 as day three was a big step up from day two so needed an earlier start…Col du Grand Columbier 18.3 km climb (average 6.9% gradient) with an elevation gain of 1255 meters, total ride 140 km…and defiantly a few red sections in this baby. We were all off with a bang then “it” happened…little bit of a commotion out the blocks. Will dropped his flap jack, which I picked up and I think Liz was having a slight issue with her bike so Neil and Eric stopped to help her out. Now I didn’t think I was that far behind everyone so I shot round the corner in pursuit, up ahead thought I saw someone turn off one of the side roads so I followed…2 minutes later I had a sneaky suspicion I had gone the wrong way. I turned round and tried the only other option but I was too late. I had missed the boat and had no idea what direction they had gone…after some aimless cycling around I sat on the side of the road defeated. I tried calling the guys sending them a text but they would all have been chain ganging it to the base of Columbier so no luck there…I had to swallow the bitter fact that I was not going to do Col du Grand Columbier that day, I would have to tackle that feat on another occasion.
Lucky my phone has a pretty good mapping system. ‘Here’ maps by Nokia…(no I am not advertising) one small download and I have a detailed map of the area, none of this iPhone malarkey of having to constantly chew data looking at Google Maps or Apple Maps…little dig over.
So I planned another route from my phone, I ended up going half way up Col de La Croix des Mille Martyrs (884 meters) and back down to Voissant. Same col we did on the first day or should I say half the col, as there was more to it. While I was climbing I got a call from Ryan, I was panting pretty heavily when I answering the phone. Anyway explained what had happened and told them to carry on as they were already about 30 km into the ride so it would have been crazy trying to link up. Had a chat to V to let her know all was well and I would be fine…and so I carried on with my little climb.
I had planned to do this climb a few times as I needed to get some climbing in as the following day would be a rest day and then another ramp up on distance and climb the following day so if I didn’t get some climbing in I would be at a big disadvantage, think I was already but had to deal with that and do as best I could. On my second climb of Col de La Croix des Mille Martyrs from Voisant, I went past the point we stopped on the first day and climbed to the top, passed that and went over the other side down to a village or town called Saint Geoire En Valdaine, which was not very far from where we were staying.
I had a quick feed which consisted of a banana, not sure of the importance of me telling you that but yeah it was a banana. Jumped back on my bike and went back up the col in the direction I came. The climb was about 8 km with a gradient of probably 6% on average (roughly), a category 3 climb according to strava, the section I did twice in the morning was apparently a category 2 climb, again according to strava.
So made it to the top feeling pretty knackered and thirsty, I had some liquid. What little I had left, I left some for the trip back which was roughly 20 km. (It was a hot day) Not having climbing in my saddle for more than two or three km before, the inside of my legs, just below my crotch were a wee bit sore by the time I got back to HQ, so I waddled around the place. I was laughing at myself as I couldn’t even bend over to pick things up off the floor let alone climb a flight of stairs. I was glad to be back, so had a good feed and chilled out on the couch watching the Dauphiné, or trying to keep my eyes open.
Liz arrived back before the others as she could not climb Columbier due to coming off the bike the day before. This I did not realise, she had bruised her ribs and found it too painful to get out of her saddle to climb so had decided to make her way home. She picked up an old school map from the tourist office and plotted her way back, pretty impressive.
Everyone arrived back pretty knackered themselves but it sounded like they had a good day out, all having an awesome sense of achievement. V made it up in 2 hours so I was proud of her, as many will know she hates climbing so an amazing achievement for her.
That night we had pizza’s for dinner, check out how many boxes of pizza we had, well we didn’t finish it all but it was still impressive…day four is a rest day before we tackle a bigger climb. But the term rest day is a bit miss-leading, watch this space to find out why…?