View Valloire to La Garde (ish) in a larger map
|The view from my balcony in Valloire.|
The climb begins right here.
The D902 road, which I had taken into Valloire and which forms the town's main drag, is the road up to the Col du Galibier. From Valloire it heads almost directly south, snaking among towering mountains through a valley presumably gouged by passing glaciers.
|The first part of the climb to the Col du Galibier,|
running south up the river valley
Speaking of climb markers, I found them very helpful. They help you address the climb in small, manageable sections. And of course the fact they're metric means the math is simple. That helps, because when I'm climbing any math seems daunting.
|Looking north from the bridge at which point the road|
begins snaking up the mountainside.
Plan Lachat is the buildings to the right.
|Climbing up Galibier. The pass itself is barely|
visible on the left side of the picture.
This climb isn't part of this year's Tour de France, but echoes of earlier races can be seen with the names painted on the road. Most of the names seemed old; I saw Kloden a lot, and Levi, and then even Zabel! When I saw Riis I thought perhaps I had gone so slowly as to go back in time, but since Saxo Bank was written nearby I assume it was encouraging his team management, or perhaps driving, not his 1990s riding. More than any of that, however, were completely incomprehensible encouragements, mostly in German or Dutch.
|The last kilometer, snaking up the hill past the tunnel.|
|The pass area, from the hill above|
Eventually, and a little reluctantly, I put on my jacket and headed down the south side. I stopped briefly at the gift shop near the tunnel entrance (there's one on either side) and got a souvenir climb marker, then settled in for the long descent.
|The glaciers above the Col du Lautaret|
|The church in Villar D'Arene is|
a major fixer-upper.
Along this road I ran through my first tunnel, which was a pretty terrifying experience. Well, the first one was OK because I was closely following a car, and therefore I didn't feel like I was going to be collected by someone coming up from behind. But I couldn't see the road, regardless of my light. In one long tunnel there were sections without lights, and I could just barely detect my light on the road. But whenever a car passed in the other direction I lost my night vision, and was again blind for a few seconds. Luckily I was going downhill through these things, so I wasn't in them long.
|Looking down at Bourg D'Oisans from D211A|
|D211A hugging the ridge next to Bourg D'Oisans|
After passing through some expensive residential areas, the road became more remote and ran along a steep ridge north of the Romanche river valley. I felt a little put-upon for having to climb so far to the hotel, but ultimately the views from this road were stunning, and worth it. In fact I had planned to ride the D219, a similar road on the other side of the valley, just to have this sort of experience. Maybe now I'll take an extra trip up Alpe D'Huez instead.
Finally, even this obscure road was too much, and I turned off onto the Route de Maronne, a road so tiny that it doesn't even warrant a number.
|The Route de Maronne, heading through the|
Foret de Maronne
I finally got to the hotel and, after a tremendously filling dinner, got to sleep.