Blue sky and sunshine, with cloud building late morning into afternoon. Cold but calm mountain air. Excellent decision yesterday to postpone cycling until this morning.
This year’s Tour de France route includes, as Stage 14, a day when they come from the Col du Lautaret (been there) through Briançon and then climb the Col d’Izoard (an HC climb to altitude 2,360m) before going on to a mountain top finish at Risoul. The Col d’Izoard will be the highest col climbed by the 2014 TdF.
It is 2014 and we are staying in Briançon, so we really cannot turn away the challenge of cycling part of this year’s route and checking out the Col d’Izoard summit for them. No need to get carried away though, we can happily leave out the Stage finish at Risoul.
Much of the climb through wooded hairpins, breaking out near to the top into another different (to us) landscape of rather bleak moraine summit slopes with earth pillars described as ‘Casse-deserte’.
Sheila looked as calm as ever, but John struggled to get going sweating enough for both of us. Perhaps two non-cycling days has had an effect?
Usual stream of motorbikes, cyclists overtaking us and heaps of wild flowers, with the climb interspersed with stops to eat, or have a comfort break, or just to stop.
Photos at the top and of various view out.
1km below the Col was an auberge – the Refuge Napoleon – built in 1858. We rapidly free wheeled around a few sharp bends to arrive there. Sat in the sunshine and enjoyed large cups of hot chocolate and really good tart. Could not decide between myrtile and fruits of the forest, so we ordered both and shared half each.
Fleeces on, pertex tops on, gloves and mitts on. One turn of the pedals and we were off on the descent. A few stops on the way down just to look at the views and the drop below.
Packed up and motored to Barcelonnette ready to begin our exploration of the Mercantour tomorrow. Barcelonnette has a fascinating history. Many residents emigrated in 19th century to Mexico, some returning to build fine villas. Town now has a frontier France and Italy flavour spiced up by Mexican influences. Google ‘Barcelonnette’ for more.
PS. Have at last worked out how to do âçcéñts on the iPad, but I am not going back to update all previous posts – John (or José in Barcelonnette)