View Allevard to Valloire in a larger map
The day started with breakfast in Allevard, in the Hotel du Dauphine. The standard buffet was laid out in the dining room, an inexplicably large room in the back of the hotel. The building, being old, has a lot of quirks, one of which is that the dining room holds 20+ tables, but is only reachable by walking through the lobby, the sitting room, and a back hall. The breakfast itself was the standard fare of croissants and coffee, which is fine, but I'd love to see some fruit or scrambled eggs one of these days.
|D525 near Allevard|
D525 meets up with D925, which I took north into La Rochette. This road has signs up indicating that the tour was coming through on the 13th, so the road would be closed. In fact, I'm riding the TdF route in reverse, more or less.
La Rochette is a charming but small and, well, slightly run-down village. I had a good time getting lost in its little streets and seeing all the old buildings that may have been built by the Neanderthals, for all I know. But too many shops were closed, and the town didn't seem too lively.
The road runs through an industrial area, then begins a climb through a generally residential area, and then becomes rural. Along this stretch I started hearing lots of cow bells, in this case actually attached to grazing cows. Musically, it's better to have one good cow bell, played with gusto, rather than many uncoordinated bells.
|The first climb marker on the|
road to the Col du Grand Cucheron
After much huffing and puffing I finally made it to the top, and took the obligatory picture next to the sign. Well, an obliging Frenchman did, at least. The only other ride was taking a... nature break, and I didn't want to bother him. I put on my jacket and headed down.
Almost immediately I had to stop to absorb the view. From the descent, you can see the valley floor and the whole line of unbelievably tall and steep mountains on the other side. It's a fantastic way to enter the valley; it hits you all at once just how lucky you are to be there.
|Looking over the Maurienne for the first time, from D207|
|The river and highway squeezing through|
the L'Arc valley
I wasn't all that fond of this part of the ride. Not only is the road loud, but it climbs very slightly. Not enough that you notice, but enough to make you wonder why you're going so slowly. So it seems endless.
|The bell tower in|
After riding around the main part of town and buying some water, I got back on D1006 and was pleasantly surprised to find a bike path. That helped a lot. Before long I had reached St-Michel-de-Maurienne, at the foot of the Télégraphe climb, which turns out to be much closer to what I was hoping St-Jean-etc would be. I still haven't got the hang of lunch, so I bought a sandwich at the grocery store and sat in the shade next to the first climb marker to eat it. Meanwhile dozens of riders passed up and down the road.
Having eaten, it was time to get moving and begin the long slog up to... well, the middle, really. Most of the riders heading up would climb the Télégraphe, and then follow it with the Galibier. I'm only doing the first one, and will stay overnight between the two climbs in a town called Valloire.
|The first climb marker, at the intersection|
Somewhere along the way the road runs through the Aire de Pique Nique, with several groups of really nicely made tables on the side of the road. This is where I should have eaten my lunch. Live and learn.
|Hairpin on the climb to the Col de Telegraphe|
The grade is pretty consistent, but it was late in the day for me, and I was getting run down. I managed to make it to the top, and again got the obligatory picture. At the summit you can see the Maurienne on the one side, and the Valloire valley on the other. Amazing views.
|Entering Valloire. The road to the|
Col de Galibier continues directly south