Today we decided to effectively do two rides split by lunch in Bourg d’Oisans. Phil and Martina went off to Bourg for various bike fettling whilst the rest of us headed up to La Brerade. This took us up a steep climb to a valley alongside a whitewater river before again kicking up in true alpine style with some serious switchback action. We then followed the river up through a valley that looked almost Canadian. Most of the time we were in the clouds or even looking down on them! At the end of the valley there was a cafe with a big Ouvert sign! Fantastic!
Using my exceptional French (grade B O level 1983) we eventually had a lovely slice of what tasted like treacle tart whilst wet cycle gear dried next to the woodburner, before setting off to descend back to Bourg for lunch. Stopping only to take this photo
After lunch we decided to do a short ride up to Villard Notre Dame, taking the balcony road on the opposite side of the valley to yesterday. At the bottom of the climb the temperature was reading 17.5 degrees and the initial few km out of Bourg were too hot as we ascended through scarily unlit tunnels (absolutely pitch black with a chicane and potholes – horrible). All that separated the road from a sheer drop was a low line of concrete blocks, but the views were stunning. At one point we were looking down on eagles swooping in the valley thermals as the road climbed ever higher. At the top, an anticlimax as there was nothing there, we’d climbed 800m in 10km. The temperature had dropped a full 12 degrees to 5.5C.
The descent was scary as hell, with a massive drop to one side, and blind tunnels to contend with – it was on the brakes all the way! Thoroughly soaked by the bottom and freezing cold, probably one of the best days I’ve ever had on a bike.
Overall a modest 50 or so miles and just under 7000ft of climbing but hard, hard work.