The Col d’Izoard & The Tunnel of Doom

Top of the Col d'IzoardOur last day in the French Alps and Coxy promises it’s just an easy jog over the Col d’Izoard and down into the valleys. We should know better by now…

First up, the start of the Col is too far to ride to so it’s into the van the bikes go and the lads pile into the hire car. Coxy, Steve, Ade, Spenna, Marty and Johnny G are doing this one while Johnno and Blue are going to accompany Colmer up the nearby Alpe d’Huez so that he can finally claim that scalp.

The drive to the start of the Col d’Izoard is a long one of 1 1/2 hours through beautiful scenery to the start at Briancon.

The lads set off and there’s a long downhill before the climb begins. This is a really pretty mountain and the lads tackle the gruelling climb through the pine forests with Coxy and Spenna level pegging at the front. Steve and Ade are close behind with Marty and Johnny G bringing up the rear. New tyres for John means no more puncture problems and he has a trouble free climb.

It’s a dead heat at the top as Coxy and Spenna share the Polka Dot jersey on this Col.

Dead heat on the Col d'IzzordThen we begin the descent to Guillestre and this one is the best yet. It’s long and winding with not as many hairpins as the previous Cols so I can chase the lads down at top speed. I keep Steve’s bright yellow jersey in sight as he races behind Johnny G and the rest of the group down to the bottom. Wish I’d had a van video cam for this one.

As I chase the Peleton down through the spectacular cliff valley we hit the first tunnel and then things turn really scary. I slow for the lads ahead to get through the tunnel and there’s a massive blast on the horn from a huge French Artic lorry roaring up in the wing mirror. This guy is in a hurry so at the first chance I pull over, let him pass and then slip in behind him. He’s now between me and the lads as we push on down and road gets narrower and narrower.

The cliff is over hanging the road now and there’s only room on the road for one vehicle with the odd pulling in point now and again. There’s a sheer drop of hundreds of feet to my right… what if something is coming the other way!

The lorry charges on with me in his slip stream… if he can get through then so can I… and then we hit the Tunnel of Doom….

The Tunnel of DoomWith a massive blast of his horn the lorry driver from Duel enters the black hole in the cliff face. There are no traffic lights, no lights in the tunnel and there’s only a couple of feet of space on either side of him. I hang on from grim death trying to keep up as he powers on blasting that horn every few seconds. If anything is coming the other way it’s a wipe out.

At last we see day light and he hurtles on and I see the lads in a pull over. I stagger from the van and then the true horror hits me…

All that time me and Mr Doom were racing through that tunnel the lads were just ahead of him spinning their wheels like never before to avoid being swatted!!!!

Balls of Steel. That’s The Coastbusters!

After recovering our sanity we carry on and then lunch at Guillestre before heading back to Briancon to pick up the hire car.

Every day it gets better and better.

And to top it all Colmer got up the Alpe d’Huez with Johnno and Blue via the Balcony.

I want to thank Coxy for organising such a marvellous trip and for being… well…. Coxy! I want to thank Ade for his help on the drive down and back and whenever I get into a tricky situation in the van. I want to thank Blue, Johnno and Colmer who looked after me so well in our cabin. And I want to thank Steve, Johnny G, Spenna and Marty for being such a great set of lads.

We march on… next year…Italy?

The Peleton descends the Col d'Izoard

You can see more photos of this ride here