Bourg St ~Maurice to Lansleberg-Mont-Cenis
Distance 83km, Elevation Gained 2,238m
‘Over the Col and Far Away’ By Rory Chappell (Support Team)
The day started early high above Bourg Saint Maurice with a fantastic breakfast at our overnight stop, Montagn’Arcs. Joined by the fresh talent from Bolton, Neil and Jane, the cyclists set off up to Val d’Isère. The ascent up was simply breathtaking. There wasn’t enough time to appreciate it all; from the reservoir dominated by the mountains, to a tunnel underneath them, the scenery was some of the best so far. This was not lost on the cyclists. Even some friendly donkeys wanted in on the action.
Val d’Isère is a picturesque skiing town, normally bustling with alpine adventurers waiting to carve the snow, but in July, it is mostly home to cyclists, bikers and tourists wishing to challenge themselves on Col de L’Iseran. And challenge themselves our cyclists did.
This was the tallest climb so far, at 2258 m. A quarter the height of Everest. As nice as the scenery may be, nothing can comprise the focus between rider and tarmac. Driving up the roads, cresting a hill, rounding a hairpin, only to be laden with another after another. Neil and Jane took off like a pair of rockets. Maybe it is something in the water up North, but they both took the lead for most the day. Claire was a star as per usual, making friends with everyone as she winded up the mountain.
It is relentless. And no one fought this harder than Alison. After a quick kip in a bus stop, she set off up the Col with the bit between her teeth. The battle was onerous, but she made it to the summit. It didn’t matter that the others had gone down the other side. She made it. That is something no one can ever take away.
Speaking of the others, they had all decided that the top of the mountain was ‘too windy’ for lunch. Beggars can be choosers as it turns out; they quickly descended into the village of Bonneval-sur-Arc, and upon realising nowhere was open, they snapped their fingers and and hailed Callum down the mountain with sustenance.
I think Col de L’Iseran will stick in the memory off all in involved today. The support crew will never forget forging their way through the epic scenery. The cyclists will remember and appreciate the grind up the Col. And no one will forget the great meal and laughs shared over beers and wine in the evening.