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After missing a proper dinner the night before, I was pleased to find a bountiful breakfast at my hotel in Briançon. I took good advantage of that. I felt like I was going to need a lot of energy today.
|It's a long climb|
The climb is very gentle, at times hardly even registering as a climb. The road runs through some little villages, then becomes a little more isolated as it approaches the pass. I passed a couple of flocks of sheep, each with a shepherd watching them from the road. Not many fellow cyclists on this day.
|Looking up toward the Col du Lautaret|
That omelette loomed strangely large in my planning. I had planned to get to the pass around lunchtime, which worked out. As it turned out it was far too cold to sit outside, and I ended up eating at the other restaurant at the pass. Anyway, I got my omelette.
|Looking from the Col du Lautaret|
toward the Col du Galibier
Maybe it was the long rest, maybe it was the magical power of the omelette, but I felt really great on this climb. It runs through stark terrain, with exposed rock, grass or moss, and not a tree to be seen. You can see the road for miles ahead.
I think the last time the Tour de France climbed this side of the road was 2011, and the road was still covered with exhortations for Andy and Frank Schleck, and the Leopard team. That day was near the peak of poor Andy's powers; as I was passing over his name he had just pulled out of the 2014 Tour a couple of days earlier.
|D902 climbs up toward a fog-shrouded Col du Galibier|
At 2642m this was now the highest point of my ride, and indeed would be the highest point I would see until the plane ride home. It was also cold -- about 10C (on that plane ride home I kept an eye on the flight statistics, and as we passed through 2600m I couldn't help but note that the plane also registered 10C).
|A fog-bound Col du Galibier|
As I rode into town, I heard a crack and thought I might have dropped something. After passing all the way around the town once, reminding myself of the place I spent two days in 2012, I headed up toward the Col du Télégraphe.
It was at that point that I realized that the crack I heard earlier was, in fact, a rear spoke snapping. Nuts! I turned back around to find a bike shop. The first one didn't have spokes for road bikes; the second one had no shop, but they offered to sell me a jersey and sent me toward another shop that didn't happen to exist.
|Saint-Julien. Nice town, but|
no bike shop.
Nonetheless, I slowly and carefully made it to St. Michel, the little town at the bottom of the hill, and again looked around for a bike shop. None to be found. Incidentally, Google did no better. Harrumph.
|The Maurienne, the valley of the L'Arc, from my hotel balcony.|