Marmotte - Col du Galibier
Friday was our official rest day, nothing much planned, but I really wanted to check out the descent from the Galibier to Bourg. Never ridden in the Alps, and certainly never with so many people, I had expectations of jostling morons on suicide missions, desperate to make up time by descending like a dazed moth in a post light bulb incident.
As this was a long climb we packed the bikes into the Land Rover (its not a “truck” or a “van”, its a Land Rover!) and headed for the Col de Lauteret. We dumped Harbs here so he could eat and we drove the remaining section to the top of the Galibier. This was a real alpine summit. The drive up the valley to the Lauteret was lush and green, with a long winding road through ski villages and wooden chalets perched in high meadows. White water rapids cascading over boulder strewn river beds, the sound of the rushing rivers filling the valleys.
The view from the Galibier at 2600m was, invigorating. A panoramic view of the jagged, snow capped peaks of the alps, the snaking roads and green pastures. From here you could see the road we’d be climbing in the race, as it twisted and turned from deep in the valley bottom to the summit of the Galibier. It looked daunting!
I set off back down to the Lauteret to pick up Harbs and do the rest of the descent. I’d donned arm and leg warmers to “test” the conditions for race day. It was definitely cold and “damp from the melt water running down the roads but nothing too traumatic. Picking Harbs up in Lauteret, we set off on the descent. Fast sweeping corners, legs pushing the big ring keeping momentum up, I felt like Conor McCloud and his first “quickenining”. This is what riding in the alps is supposed to feel like! A fantastic descent through inspiring scenary and with more than a hint of speed and danger. The descent delivers you to the bottom of the Alpe d’Huez like a fairground ride. You can either “get off” here, or stay on for the crazy ascent. We got off and savoured café au lait and more patisseries!