Day 4 – Jauziers to Roquebilliere

8 Sep

Overnight, I was on the point of sitting out the day in the van – I felt nauseous and under the weather.  However, if I took it gently, one 1km at a time….still, this was Col de Bonnette – the highest pass in Europe – a whopping 2,802m.

Gideon had suggested a staggered start today – so I was one of the first to go, accompanied by Jeff the doctor who would chaperone / pace me up the mountain.  This was also a long climb – 22km, starting at 6-7%, with some nasty “Haute Categorie” sections.

Like l’Izoard, Bonnette winds up through a river valley.  The climb was in shadow, therefore cold, until a third of the way up.  At around 14km, after regular stops weren’t helping enough, I began to feel like today was not going to be my day.  I was also conscious that I had one more day after this and be fit for the Rendezvous in Monte Carlo – oh, and I looked up at what was to come:

….so I decided to get in the van.  On balance, it was the right decision – I just wasn’t well enough to finish the climb.

From the van, I could see the full glory of the scenery and the challenge of the climb were even more apparent.  Chik and Jeff carried on, with regular stops and Pete and I followed in the van.

This is the view from the “false” summit to the actual summit (which isn’t visible on the way up).  The col is the small notch you can see on the right of the peak:

I have the utmost admiration for all the team who made this climb, the severity of which is difficult to imagine but hopefully this shot of Jeff and Chik nearing the summit will give some idea:

We met the rest of the group for photos at the Col.  It’s a bit of a bunfight because there are so many tourists – motorcycles and cars (who you cannot help feel have “cheated”) – that you have to queue for a photo.

After some snacks, I got back on the bike for the descent (I know, the easy bit) and went down with Mike Boles – another stunning, seemingly endless descent, though amazing terrain:

I’ll finish the second half of this blog tomorrow, as I need some sleep if I am to have a hope of getting through the day……still couldn’t resist getting this out there.

The descent after Col de Bonnette required new superlatives – over 50kms, the first 30kms of which was through steep switchbacks – initially in the high mountains, through the tree line into pine forests, then into the river valley for a further 20kms.  This latter part was against a headwind, so we adopted a “pace line” single file taking it in turns at the front (except me!) to push through the wind.

Lunch was not too bad – Gideon advised us not to ask what was in the “ravioli”, plus potato-au-gratin.  Jason kept up his custom of a lunchtime beer, although there were no other takers.  Some brief relaxation in the driveway of the restaurant, contemplating another challenging afternoon climb – another 1,000m+, this time in hot sunshine.  I still felt unsteady on my feet, so the bike went back in the van and I assumed photo and catering duty, with Gideon.  Here are some shots of the way up:

You should be thinking “hot, hot, hot…” looking at this….

At the top, Gideon brewed up some iced coffee that went down a treat.  The riders reaching the top all thought it was harder than billed, although thankfully the temperature dropped after the halfway stop.  Here’s the team at the top of the Col – the ski resort of Val de Blore – ready for the descent:

A beautiful descent – more pretty than awe-inspiring, into our hotel for the night.  Probably the best hotel of the trip and, given the large beer count settled the next morning, the team we getting de-mob happy.  I was also feeling better and up for trying my legs on the last day’s climbs….


5 Responses to “Day 4 – Jauziers to Roquebilliere”

  1. Mike Morrison September 9, 2012 at 3:05 am #

    It’s all downhill to MC from here……keep going!!

    Hope you are feeling ok for the final day.

    Good luck.


  2. Megan Thresh September 9, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    The views look absolutely incredible- keep up the work Dad, vv. proud of you!! Good luck to all you guys riding on the last day!

  3. Lou September 9, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    Hi CT and gang, congratulations for the amazing physical feat you have all endured, looks and sounds amazing. You can all become after dinner speakers and expect to have book deal offers now? (Well at the least some free beers from friends). Very well done xxx

  4. Rebecca Procter September 9, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    Hi Charlie and Mike-what a fantastic acievement so far. Keep on going guys! We are ‘rooting’ for you! All the very best. Rebecca & co. XX

  5. Elin Daniels September 9, 2012 at 11:48 pm #

    Well done everyone. That was quite a journey ! Love to you all. Elin

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