Riding the Col du Galibier. The Cheat's Way?

My attempt to ride Puy de Dome during our road trip around France had been thwarted.

We'd attented a wonderful wedding at Lake Orta in Italy and had planned to drive straight to Provence to tackle the second riding objective, Mont Ventoux.

But we'd had a wonderful time in the Alps, riding spectacular Cols around Annecy and Albertville. So we decided to return there first and extend our trip by a week.

This gave me the chance to add the Col du Galibier to my tick-list.

I had never previously attempted a road climb of such gradient, length or, being brutaly honest, with such an intimidating history. So I cheated. Sort of. I rode the actual climb to the summit, but I started from the village of Valloire.

If you don't know the geography, I'll explain.

Riding from the north, the full starting point feels like it should be Saint Michel de Maurienne, even though the first climb you'd tackle is the Co du Telegraphe.

Start from here, and the Galibier is 34.8km long with 2120m height gain.

Valloire is hammocked between the two Cols.

Start there, as I did, and climb is 18.1km long with 1245m height gain.

It was tough enough, and a superb experience, but next time I'm in the area I'd like to attempt to ride them both. Eithe than or ride the Galibier from the south side, which looks an entirely different proposition.

There are a number of memorials on the mountain. There's one to the creator of the Tour de France, Henri Desgrange.

And there's a new memorial to a legendary rider, Marco Pantani.

I spotted it on the way up and asked another rider (who was snapping shots of his friends) to take my photo next to it on the way down.

Incidentally, that Goretex jacket was very important for the cold, downhill plummet.

If I'd had windproof gloves with fingers I'd have had them on too. High on the descent I was whacking my backside to keep the blood supply in my finger ends.

To any passing motorist it must have looked like I was whipping myself to go faster.

Next, La Ventoux.


Anonymous said...

Are you running a compact or triple chainset? Great blog, I've ordered the DVD.



Simon said...

Hi Matt

Thanks for the order. I'm on Tiree at the moment with limited internet access so I haven't yet responded to your e-mail.

I had a tripple on my old Trek, but switched to a compact for this Specialized Roubaix Elite. Almost as easy on the hills!