Saturday, June 26, 2010

An 'easy' 100km

Actually, it was a little over 100km and in fact the term 'easy' is completely relative to the other rides that are in this area.

Yesterday was a complete rest day. After la marmotte, I felt is was necessary to kick back and relax for the day. I found a great place right downtown Bourg d'Oisans next to the river to sit and write about la marmotte.

It was super peaceful. One pretty cool thing - as I sat there writing my blog, I watched a guy in the river removing trash. This is something I don't see in the US (at least I haven't seen it). I thought it was really cool that the town would take such pride in their natural surroundings.

It took a while to download all of the photos for la marmotte, but I think in the end, that ride deserved all the time I spent working on the blog. Can I say yesterday was an epic day of writing???

Today Jamie and I took off to do part of a sportive called la Vaujany Sportive. In france, the organized group rides are called Sportives - although much like la Marmotte, it is also timed so I'm sure it ends up being a race.

La Vaujany Sportive has three routes. I had thought I would do the Parcours Master which is 173km, but after our loop of la marmotte (almost), I decided that the Parcours Senior is more interesting. In fact, we didn't do the complete senior route, we did a more scenic and slightly easier route called 'Le tour du Matheysin par Laffrey'. This route is listed in my little guide book as being 93km (looping out from BdO) with an elevation gain of 1250m (4100ft).

Because we are staying at the B&B which is 5km outside of BdO, of course we have to add 10k to that distance. No real change to the elevation gain though. Our hosts suggested we do the loop backwards from what the guidebook indicates. This allows us to start and finish on a descent! How's that for great? The other advantage is it puts us descending the busiest road early in the ride rather than climbing it at the end of the ride.

Nothing exciting about the descent of that busy road. The scenery is great, but no real time for photos when we're trying to stay out of the way of the cars. The descent was probably close to 15 miles. The road was pretty straight, so again, nothing super exciting about it.

Once we found our left turn through Sechilienne, the road turned up as we knew it would. This was perhaps one of the easiest climbs I've done. Reminded me a lot of Caesar's Head. Similar in distance and similar in grade. One big difference - this climb pretty much kept that same grade the entire distance to the town of Laffrey. I felt pretty good after my rest day, and kept the bike in the middle ring for the entire climb. I stopped once for a photo before resuming the climb.

After Laffrey there was a little more climbing, but not bad. Then, we ended up in this beautiful rolling countryside for a good number of miles.

This was the easiest riding I have seen since I've been here. Still, the rollers were there and they were a little bigger than what you might find in Greenville county.

We finally made the final turn for the col d'Ornon and started our final climb of the day. Like the earlier climb, this was a constant grade that was relatively easy. Again, I kept it in the middle ring, but Jamie set the pace all the way to the top.

A brief stop for a couple of photos before we began our descent. The descent was something on the order of 8-9 miles and it was a great descent. As per everywhere you go out here, the views are awesome. Here's a couple of shots:

I like how the little village is set right on the side of the mountain. Also, in the last picture (click on it to enlarge) you can actually see the line of the road built right into the edge of the cliff. It is near the top. Awesome.

One problem for me. My right knee gave me a couple of shooting pains today. A little ache I can deal with, but these were not good signs. I'll have to take it easy no matter what ride I do tomorrow. There is a relatively easy ride of about 52km (32 mi) with only (remember, it's all relative!) 1000m (3280ft) of elevation gain. It is out and back, so I figure if my knee starts to hurt, I can always turn around.

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