Tuesday, July 17, 2012

La Garde to Grenoble

On Sunday I completed my circuit of the Grenoble area by riding from La Garde to back to Grenoble.

View La Garde to Grenoble in a larger map

This ride was a little like one of those intermediate Tour de France stages, between mountain stages, much like Monday's TdF stage. Just getting from one place to another.

I had no particular reason to hurry, but on the other hand I had no reason to tarry, so I ended up leaving the inconveniently located hotel at 8:30. Unlike the previous two days, the morning was dry. As I was leaving, a group of Dutch riders, all in matching jerseys, were getting ready. As I headed down the hill at a leisurely pace, several of them passed by.

Heading north on D1091
Just as I had the previous two days, I went down the Route de Maronne (there's no other way to go), headed toward La Garde on D211a, and dropped into Bourg D'Oisans on D211. I went through town and exited on what felt like the same road, but according to the map it's D1091b, which a little later merges with D1091. This is the same road I took down from the Col du Lauteret a few days ago, continuing through the Romanche valley.

The valley is awfully tight, but the road never gains any elevation. I suppose that ought to be obvious from the fact that it's following a river.

Monument to the Maquis of the Oisans
D1091 heads north for a while, then peels off left, toward the west, at the intersection with D528, the Route de Savoie. That road heads up to the Col de la Croix de Fer, the highest point of this year's TdF. I'd love to try that. Maybe next time.

Unusual architecture in Livet
Somewhere along here the road begins a gradual descent, so most of the ride is done with almost no effort. The valley, like the Maurienne, is industrial, although it seems like a lot of the plants here are long closed.

The road bends toward the west, and the river becomes a trickle. Where does all that water I saw earlier go?

Eventually I came to Vizille, a larger village.It has a chateau, so I thought I'd ride through town to get a view, although I wouldn't be taking a tour in my cycling get-up. Vizille is much larger than the other villages I've been passing through on this ride. Its downtown is that nest of organically-arranged one-lane roads that's so charming, as long as you're not in a car.

A hint of the Chateau of Vizilla


I got a few shots of the chateau, which is apparently worth a serious visit, then headed out of town on the Route Napoleon. Or one of 'em, anyway; lots of roads around here have that name. In my case it was D5, which makes a stiff little climb up a hill before descending into the suburbs of Grenoble.

Once in Grenoble I headed more of less straight for the hotel, about a block from the train station, but found myself there too early to check in. So I rode around near the river a bit, then headed back to the hotel and checked in. Dinner was at Chez Pierre near the train station, where I had a sort of gourmet pizza.

Elevation profile
Today's ride was a pleasant 38 miles, generally downhill. The only climb was the one immediately after Vizille, which was apparently 1.5 miles at an average grade of about 7%. If this ride was an intermediate stage, then the next day was a rest/transfer day, in which I rented a car and drove to Carpentras.

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