Le Tour pour les Amatuers: Day 3
When the Tour de France first climbed the Col du Galibier only three men completed it without getting off of their bikes and walking. The same year the yellow jersey winner declared the organisers ‘bandits’ for risking the riders on such a treacherous climb. It is a regular feature in cycling folklore and for this reason it is a classic bucket list alpine climb.
This was to be the third consecutive hard day in the saddle, and to reach the Galibier we would have to first climb the formidable Col du Télégraphe. Due to the impending drama unbelievable amounts of food were being stuffed into mouths and pockets, but the handy 14km into the neighbouring town of St Michel de Maurienne was causing some concern. High winds, tired legs and tired heads combined to produce a meagre 19.21 km/h speed up the main road. This could be an extremely long day, and there were murmurings of a mutiny.
Thankfully it turns out that it was just due to lack of practice on the flat. Our athletic bodies have been highly trained for the last number of weeks for alpine climbs. Once we hit the lower slopes of the Col du Télégraphe we were back with a bang. We stopped for photographs at the summit and dropped 5km down into the town of Valloire for coffees and apple pie.
Col du Galibier isn’t as severe as some of the work we have done already, but it is relentless. It probably made the job harder given the 34C temperature. The final 45km is through snow, and as you approach the summit and the gradient ramps up to 10%, the snow is 5 foot high to each side.
The return home required us to climb the Col du Télégraphe again, but it is a handy climb after the adrenaline has kicked in.
Today’s climb was tough, for me a lifetime ambition, and one I thought I would only ever watch on the telly. Nenagh CC have accomplished a lot this year, and to get seven greying hasbeens to the summit of Europe’s premier mountain passes is another outstanding accomplishment. Special mention goes to Aidan for doing it with 25 sprocket on the back.
Day 3: Col du Télégraphe and the Col du Galibier
Distance 104 km
Average speed 20.1 km/h
Elevation gain 2609m, Max elevation 2645m