Day 10 : Three cols in one day
In the morning we had a chat with another cyclist. He hadn't felt as cold on the Bonette as us yesterday. A while later Bram told me that during the night he had used the bushes as a toilet, because he thought there were bars in front of the bathrooms. Now he noticed those were actually fly curtains. We went to the supermarket and baker, it was a pretty touristy town with music everywhere. We recognized one of the songs as 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds', it was some weird French version.
There was also a store selling bicycle stuff. Unfortunately they didn't sell luggage carriers. I bought an inner tire and a pocket knife with 'cold de Bonette' written on it. Bram bought a warm bicycle shirt showing the Bonette. We left late today and there were still three cols to be climbed. We started right away with the col de Vars. There we passed the cyclist we had seen on the campsite and his wife. Halfway up the mountain we needed to get a stamp. We waited in front of the tourist office for ten minutes, only to hear they didn't have one. Luckily, we found one in the local town hall. We talked with an English couple at the summit. They had been cycling in the area for years. After we took pictures for each other we bought some more ice cream. I wanted to go to the bathroom, but even as a customer you had to pay, so I just went in the bushes.
Col de Vars
View towards the side we had come from
During the descent we passed some villages. My bike was making a strange noise, every time my wheel went around something was ticking. My rear tire turned out to be so worn out that the inner tire was popping out. I clearly needed a new one. I carried a spare one after lat year's problems. Within 15 minutes I had replaced it and we could continue.
Bart repairing his bike.
There wasn't a descent at the end of the village so we couldn't buy any food. There was, however, another road going upwards towards the second col of the day, the Izoard. Twenty kilometers further and more than an hour later we arrived at the village at the base of the official climb. At the bakery, we were helped by two good looking girls. They even smiled at us, at least that is what we told ourselves, maybe they were just laughing at our feral look. One of them asked if my chain had run off, because my hands were black. I told them I had had a punctured tire. At the bakery they also sold ice, we decided to come back for dessert later. First, we needed to get some spread and drinks.
We went back for ice cream and ate the bread on the terrace that belonged to the bakery. Of course, the girls were pleasantly surprised we had returned, or so we told ourselves. I had chocolate and coffee ice, but coffee and lemon would have been better because those bins were farther to the back. For that reason Bram ordered melon and something else. We ate the rest of the food in the shade. The salad we had bought contained cucumber and fatty salmon; I hoped I would be able to keep that in during the climb.
The first part of the Izoard involved much sweating, later we cycled uphill at a steady pace. Bram wanted to take a break, so I took some photos.
One of the turns on the Izoard
The village where we came from
Million-dollar question: What is Bram going to do with these leaves?
This climb was very nice, at one corner we looked out over a huge rock.
Climbing the Izoard
At the top of the col we asked some motorcyclists to take a picture of us.
At the top of the Izoard
View towards the summit
We were going in this direction
The descent went over a pretty busy road. When I stopped at an intersection to wait for Bram, a cyclist approached me. He was looking for the way up the mountain. I managed to help him with the map I carried. Another time a car stopped, and the people asked if we knew where the nearest DIY store was. Of course we would know, being two cyclists with luggage eating in a park.
The descent stopped in Briancon. It was packed with cars, but we could quickly ride through by bike. The road went slightly uphill for about 10 kilometers. We got some more food, and around 19:00 started the last climb of the day, it was the col du Lautaret. The 100 cols tour went all the way up the Lautaret and then at the top would take a turn to the start of the Col du Galibier. We wanted to have a day off near the Alpe d'Huez, which meant we would instead go directly downhill after the Lautaret and would later climb back up again to climb the Galibier. It wasn't very steep so we could cycle at about 12 km/h.
Just before reaching the top we suddenly had a very nice view. The moon was hanging above the mountains while the sun was setting. We admired the view for a while and I took some photos.
The moon during the sunset
A white van stopped, and a French man came out. He spoke some English with Bram. He explained that he passed by there about 150 times a year and stopped every time to enjoy the view. We told him we wanted to go to Bourg d'Oisans tonight. It turned out that's where the man lived. He said it would be dangerous to descend in the dark as there were many tunnels. It also wasn't all downhill, there would be some climbs as well. He said there was another campsite in the nearby village of La Grave. We continued climbing and took a picture at the top of the Lautaret.
Just before the top
The summit of the Lautauret
It was nearly dark
The descent wasn't very cold. It quickly got dark and the road was pretty good. There was a lot of traffic, though. After a few kilometers, the road got worse and we passed through a few tunnels. Every time a car approached it made so much noise that we would think there were 20. Before one of the tunnels was a speed bump that nearly threw me off my bike. We quickly saw a sign 'campsite'. We were still far from Bourg d'Oisans, but it was too dangerous to keep going. The campsite was located a bit lower than the main village. The front desk was already closed so we pitched our tents at one of the free spots before heading toward the showers.
Bram had found a huge stall, I think it was for disabled people. I started waiting for the other two to free up. At the door was a sign saying that we were only allowed to shower for 5 minutes, but I had to wait for more than 15. Meanwhile, I was talking to an Irish man who had arrived by car the same day. He planned to go mountain biking in the area with a guide. He had seen us when we were coming down the mountain. He said he had recently read about an Englishman cycling around the world in 200 days. He said he would give me the article if I would stop by his tent. They had an orange canoe on top of their car, so it should be easy to find.
I checked myself in a mirror and realized I looked horrible. My hair was all messed up and I was covered in dirt and grease. The Irish man offered to let me shower first, but I said I didn't mind waiting because it was warm. Meanwhile I ate the granola bars I still carried in my shirt. After showering, Bram and I returned to our tents, it had gotten dark. Fortunately, we remembered where we had pitched them, as they were hard to see because of their camo print. During the night I saw some falling stars. It was a clear night and we were at more than 1000m elevation, so it again got really cold.
Distance cycled: 139 km.