So a spur of the moment decision had me cycling up the Col du Lautaret. The first 2/3rds of the ride were just as I expected, fairly easy gradients, a relatively relaxing winter ‘getting the miles in’ ride. I treated myself to a break and a snack at La Grave, about half way up the climb. Things were looking good till I got to a small village on the route called Villar-d’Arene. It’s at this point where the valley opens out a little and a slight headwind turned into a full on in your face blast. Not only was it cold but as the road gets a little steeper here, I went from spinning a nice gear to grinding away and getting nowhere. The only temporary relief was when the road started to switch back and I could get pushed up the hill for a short rest before turning back into the wind. I only realised how strong it was when I finally reached the flat section just before you arrive at the top of the Col and saw I was struggling to do 17 km/h (I normally happily churn out around 30 km/h on the flat this time of the year). But just a few more minutes of this and I had made it! Definitely my most taxing ride of the year so far!
As for the Col du Galibier, it was definitely closed (no surprise – it is not normally open until May each year). I left my bike right in the middle of the road turning off up the Col du Galibier and took the picture below left. Looks like there is about 2m of snow for the spring sun to get rid of before May!
Cycling Ascents – Cycling Holidays in the French Alps