The next ride I had planned was yet another mountain climb. I started by descending into the valley town of Bourg d'Oisans which happened to be the starting point of Stage 19. I managed to get a few snaps over the crowd.
The loop I had planned was another mountain pass, although this one was along a mountain pass overlooking the river valley, super narrow roads with long unlit tunnels.
View Bourg d'Oisans loop via Villard-Reymond in a larger map
As you can see it involved a bit of climbing...
The first ascent was quite tough, gradients were in the 10% range, and the road was super narrow with a series of unlit dark narrow tunnels. There is something really quite frightening cycling into complete darkness surrounded by rock inside a mountain. I was more afraid of giant potholes that I couldn't see, as you could hear oncoming cars a long way off.
However the effort was worth it for the amazing views over the valley. This was only one side of the mountain, once I reached Villard-Notre Dame the ascent should have mostly finished.
After reaching Villard-Notre Dame I headed to Villard-Reymond through an unsealed gravel road which was mostly flat but at high altitude. At this point I was starting to get cold, it was about 22ºC in the valley and a good deal cooler this high up. Also it started raining and I had no rain gear whatsoever.
The descent was a little hairy, being mostly gravel not as bad as the first day's route as it was a lot harder packed, however the verge was very steep, and about 1000m down or so... Suffice to say I took it easy around the corners. Boy was I glad to have a bike with 28mm tyres rather than little 23mm skinnies. Even then I was a wee bit wary.
Finally I reached Villard-Reymond and the paved road came back, not the smoothest of roads but greatly improved. At this point I was starting to get quite cold, only having a jersey and knicks and starting to get wet from the rain. The descent was nice and quick, each few hundred metres I descended it started to get warmer and warmer.
Finally I reached the valley and found a whole lot of other cyclists going through there. I started striking up a conversation with another guy about Mr Ramen. What I wasn't looking forward to was ascending Alpe d'Huez again to get to where I was staying on the 16th hairpin, which meant climbing the first 5 hairpins, also the hardest... Still I made it back in once piece. I have a few more rides planned so stay tuned.