Raid Alpine Day 4

Photo: “There were four tired cyclists sitting on a wall”. One retired salesman and three doctors.

Today was all about the big climb. Famous for being used many times on the Tour de France, it was our turn to climb the Col du Galibier. It’s reputation from the Tour made it the bogey climb of the Raid. It was easy to find. Out of the hotel car park, turn right and start climbing. This is what we had to climb, you can just about make out the road snaking it’s way up the mountain.

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We all said that it wasn’t as hard as we feared.  Most of us agreed that the Madeleine two days before was much harder. Even so, at 2,642 metres the air is a little thinner so the final few kilometres needed more effort.

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After a big effort it’s nice to look back and see what you climbed up and ask yourself “did I really do that?”.

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Photo: The final stages of the Col du Galibier. In the distance the road drops down quite steeply to the base of the climb.

The descent to lunch was fantastic. The first half is pretty scary with long drops off the side of the road with no barriers. One mistake and that could be your last. Then it opens out into a long descent down to the valley floor on wide, smooth roads with not too much traffic. Nearly half an hour of 50 – 60 km/h – quite a thrill.

With over half of the group being doctors/surgeons you can imagine I’ve heard quite a few medical stories this week. Usually these are over lunch just to make it more interesting. I have heard lots of stories about various objects having to be removed from one particular part of the human body. You get the idea.

After a post lunch coffee stop we carried on down the valley. It was my turn to be at the front. I drew the short straw. 10km into the wind. The phenomena is known as an Anabatic Wind. If you click on the link you’ll see that the article contains the sentence “Anabatic winds can be detrimental to the maximum downhill speed of cyclists.” I can vouch for that. I have never had to cycle so hard downhill. It was really tough and energy sapping. At least relief was at hand as we turned off and started to climb the 3km to the hotel.

Only it wasn’t 3km. It turned out to be an 11km climb. I was knackered and didn’t really recover until about half way up when my climbing legs came back to me. Still, the view was quite something.

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Tomorrow is our biggest day climbing of the Tour, so I had better say goodnight and get some sleep.

Year to date

11,579km / 101 rides / 114 km average per ride

118,490m elevation gain (13.4 Everests)

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