Le Tour: Part 2 Alpe d'Huez & Col du Sarenne

The first day for a ride, it's nice and sunny with only a few clouds, Mr Ramen is assembled and ready to go.  As I was staying up on the 16th hairpin of Alpe d'Huez I decided to descend and start from the bottom.  Just my luck, there was a bit of a hold up... The road gets blocked easily as there is only really one main road up and down to the resort at the top.

Soon however I made it to the bottom to the river where I started my climb.  I knew that the climb was an average of 7% over 14.5km which doesn't sound too bad, however the first few hairpins are the toughest, see the link for more info.  I planned to take the classic route and then continue on to Col du Sarenne although I turned off early from this years TDF route and went gravel.

This is the start of the climb, the day before the stage starts.  It was absolutely jam packed with tourists, fans and caravans.  The initial few kilometres were tough, the gradient is 10%+ which is not a suprise, I only stopped once, and for a good reason... to take a photo with Didi Senft!

Finally after about 1hr 20mins I made it to the top, with a photo to match.  The mid section and most of the rest of the ascent flattens out a bit.

After a quick rest I carried on to Col du Sarenne which features on this year's route.  The area was just covered with white caravans.  Like I'd read, the riders were a bit wary of the road conditions on Col du Sarenne, the paving was quite patchy and uneven so I can see why. Although the plus was that the road was free of cars.

Most of the route from the top of Alpe d'Huez was a descent, I turned off before the actual climb of Col du Sarenne onto a gravel route, which although mostly downhill with some climbs was actually quite technical.  There were plenty of bits where there was loose gravel going steep gradients downhill with a steep drop on one side.  I was the only person I saw with a road bike, everyone else was on a suspended MTB of some sort or another.

The 28mm Panaracer Paselas definitely came in useful for the rough paved roads as well as the loose gravel, although definitely the gravel would have been better with a larger more knobby tyre.  Nonetheless the alpine scenery was simply drop dead stunningly gorgeous...

Finally I managed to get off the gravel road and onto a sealed road, boy does a smooth road make a big difference.  This route went along a narrow mountain pass with a steep drop overlooking the valley.

Much of this was downhill and led me back home and as a plus it was also closed to cars, so all I saw was other cyclists and pedestrians.   I did notice at the end of this ride that my brakes needed adjusting, there was so much downhill braking on the alpine passes, hopefully I should have enough for the next week.  That's all for now.


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