Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Valloire to Vars
Starting early in the day may well be the best way to ascend the Galibier. Certainly the runners I saw taking part in the "Course de Galibier" seemed to think so. Running up mountains takes real grit. Cycling up them is challenge enough.
This became my favourite climb of the tour. Others are certainly prettier, but I liked this one for its switchbacks and lunar quality. The descent was tough and for a cautious rider, even a little scary.
From the bottom of the valley it was a ride towards the Izoard. This is a really attractive ascent and the road snakes up the mountain, sheltered by pines almost to the top.
This was a day of three climbs, with the final one taking us up to a refuge above the ski town of Vars. 30km of ascending in temperatures in excess of 30 degress centigrade was a new experience. All three cols were incredibly beautiful but differed in their character: the Galibier is barren and precipitous, the Izoard is verdant by comparison and finally the col du Var, long and open to the skies. All three are unforgetable.