The Col du Sabot and the Balcony

Get down for fucks sakeIt’s another recovery day! And we all know what that means…

We’re back on the road to the Col du Glandon but this time we turn right after the lake and up to Vaujany, summit the Col du Sabot then back down towards the digs but turning up the Col de Poutran to Villard Reculas.

Then across the Balcony to Huez 2/3rds up the Alpe de Huez and then back down to the campsite.

That’s the plan anyway…

(Ade, Spenna and Ian decide to miss this one and chill out at camp. After yesterday’s mega effort who can blame them.)

Johnny G sets off early, an hour before the rest in the hope he can get some miles in before the heat builds…

We get past the stunning lake and begin the climb up the Sabot but the temperature is already climbing to the high 20s and this is a tough little climb.

We eventually get to Vaujany half way up the Col and take a breather. It’s at this point we have a couple of options. Off to the left is a spectacular viewing point 5 km up what looks a very steep road… or we press on up the Col du Sabot… and nobody fancies either after yesterday’s slog!…

Coxy decides to do a recce up the road to the viewing point and calls in 10 minutes later to say it eases off after a while so he’s gonna get to the top and then come back.

Only Steve, Gibbo and Roly believe him and they head on up while the rest of the lads remain in the village. Meanwhile Johnny returns from up the Sabot tired out from the effort and the blazing heat. It’s 30+ now!

So we wait for the Coxy group… and wait… and wait… after an hour Johnny, Marty and Doggy decide to head back down to get ahead for the next climb while Chucky waits with me by the van.

Romain Bardet at the front

Romain Bardet at the front

While we’re waiting a car comes up with bikes on the roof and parks 20 yards down the road. It’s only one of AG2R Mondiale’s support vehicles!… 5 minutes later up come two riders in AG2R gear… and it’s only Romain Bardet at the front!!!

One of THE premier Tour de France riders and podium finisher of the last two Tours…

Just after they have gone past Coxy and the boys return from the viewing point. Turns out it was a 45 minute slog up some brutal gradients but it was worth it for the view from the top but now Coxy fancies chasing Bardet up the Col du Sabot!

But we ain’t doing that! So we head back down to the start of the Col de Poutran. This is not a steep climb and we were hoping for some relief from the sun as we’re on the far side of the mountain and the trees should shade us. Alas not, as the sun is now directly overhead…

I stop 6 km from the top and wait for the group to get here. No sign of Johnny, Marty and Doggy who I should have passed by now.

Turns out they took the wrong left turn and are now high up God knows where! They decide to reach the top (of whatever it is) and then they’re gonna head back to camp.

So I now have Coxy, Roly, Steve, Chucky and Gibbo to support but as Steve gets to me he’s had enough and bails back down… and then there were four…

We summit the Col and it’s now over the Balcony to Huez. This is the road we can see from the campsite high up the sheer cliff face.

It’s scary from down below but when you’re actually up here it’s terryfying! But it’s a great run over for the lads…me… never again! Narrow and windy round blind bends with a cliff face to the left and a 1500 metre drop on the right. Fastest way back to the campsite is just over that 2 foot wall!

But we make it over to Huez and the lads stop for eats while I go straight back to the campsite to recover!

Shortly after I get back all the lads arrive safely. A recovery day? NOT!!!

On the road to Vaujany

Picture taking on route to Vaujany

Gibbo on the Col du Sabot

Chucky and Roly climb the Col du Dabot

The lads on the Balcony

Lots to look at on the Balcony