|Climbs||Col du Manse|
Rain. And Climbing. That’s how day 4, our final day on the bike started. From Gap the plan had been to go up the Col du Manse, and the Col du Noyer, but while the weather had taken a slight down-turn, there was some solace to be had in that due to the weather the Col du Noyer was now off the menu.
Once again, leaving town we were pretty much straight into the Col du Manse. On the plus side, it would be the largest climb of the day, then after that pretty much rolling until lunch. On the downside, we did hit some double-digit ramps on the way through town, and given we weren’t even warmed up they were hard on the legs.
At this stage most of were fatigued, so the pace was pretty pedestrian, so much so that for the fit lads they could barely spin that slow, while for others any spinning at all was an effort.
The weather was pretty gloom for most of the day, and so while we might overheat on the climbs, we were then frozen on the following descents. The air at times also felt noticeably chillier as well, and we could see snow on some mountains in the distance, but thankfully by avoiding the Noyer we were able to head back to Grenoble within our limits.
The final climb to La Mure brought with it a reward of a fantastic steak et Frites lunch, with the added bonus that the final run-in back to Grenoble was pretty much all downhill. And even though the rain kept falling, at this stage morale was high.
Apart from some caution on the descents, (and the only flat tyre of the trip in the final few km), the finale was fairly uneventful (it’s always a little bit stressful trying to get a group that size through a large town at rush-hour). But by the time we got to the square in Grenoble, the sun was shining and spirits were higher!
Twas some craic that night in Grenoble!
So far, it’s been one of the biggest physical events I’ve had to prepare for, and while I gave it enough respect, I ran out of momentum a few weeks out, leading to a harder time than it could have been.
Having said that, I think had I been fitter I would still have found it as hard, although possibly would have just been a bit faster, and speaking on behalf of most of the others I think we are all of the same opinions.
There’s something special about the Alps, and of course, there are a lot more climbs to tick off the list. When is another question, but I think return trips will definitely be had.
I mentioned in the first post that I couldn’t recommend Cycling Safaris enough and in particular our guide Aidan, and mechanic Marcin. While the actual cycling was hard, having those guys there just made everything else so easy, and I’d say it’s safe to assume that we’ll be doing trips with them again in the future.
Final thanks go to all my fellow cyclists (I won’t name them in case they want to keep to themselves), but they made it memorable and were fantastic company for the week.