Round and round the mountain like a teddy bear…

Thursday.

 Round and round Alpe D’Huez
Like a teddy Bear
One pedal, two pedal
Come on, you’re nearly there!  (Said to the nursery rhyme tune).
The first climb of the day was back over the climb from two days when it was the final climb. We set off early at 7.15am The Cyclist first as I went to re-fuel the Meriva as we were heading to the mountains for three gruelling days and I have now learned to use ‘Destroyer Tactics’. As I drove to the fuel stop along our route I knew we would be passing the hotel of the TDF guys as we had walked passed it yesterday and seen some of the faces we knew. I fully expected it to be deserted of TDF people as it was them who had said to make the early start. But no! I could see them congregated it the car park. Not quite ready.
I fuelled up and again expected to pass TDF o. The catch up to The Cyclist and again no! When I got to The Cyclist I said that the TDF were behind us and he was as surprised as I was. Not that it makes any difference of course but while we do the French tour he knows that we set off later than them (sometimes 1.5hours later), then he catches them and overtakes them group by group, as he just does his steady pace that doesn’t take all his effort, so he can still feel strong the next day. The Cyclist said he would be caught later as his legs are heavy and he is not feeling great, so he is slow. That is my fault. With everything that went on yesterday, I missed rubbing them down, just before his first big alpine mountain stage. The cyclist said that Le Tour was tougher cycling this year, using nicer roads but they saved the killer days until the last 3days in the Alps and I didn’t rub his legs.
I am feeling pretty awful and apologised to the cyclist as it is my job to maintain the machine that is The Cyclist. I have been so much better at frequent leg massages this time than in Italy, but when I don’t do it, it is because of a late finish etc as kit washing and feeding him comes first. Hey ho. I will have to give them a going over tonight as tomorrows stage is harder and longer than today’s and today’s includes going up one of the toughest iconic climbs in the tour twice!
Although the first climb was sunny we saw on the way down that there was a huge layer of cloud the was hanging over the lake that we had time trialled  around yesterday. it looked really pretty with sun filled mountain top rising above the layer of low cloud.  This could make a good Photo he said as he had waited for me to catch up on the descent. At least he knows what I try to do with photos as I try to make them interesting or arty when I can. So we had done the first two of the 6 climbs by 9am. The worst is yet to come though and we have a way to go to get there that includes another mountain.
We past 2nd TDF food stop and were preparing food but they haven’t caught him yet. The clouds Were still hanging low around the mountains and it looked very pretty with sun on the peaks but the clouds below. I took some photos and I hope you think so too. The cars and lorries are going at such a fast pace. I am beginning to think that it may not be just Italy with the super fast driving although I do think that, as in any situation, the longer ago an experience was the more the nasty bits fade from memory.
The 3rd pass was Col de Ornon and it was ery pretty. The Cyclist said if he seems slow, it’s because he pulling very big gear to save the smaller ones for the Alpe d’Huez a HC climb we have to do twice today 4th and last. It astounds odd when he says it to me. “I’m pulling a big ring Kay”. You wouldn’t think cycling unless you are a cyclist I think.
Alpe d’Huez was pure bedlam. We got there early enough in the morning to just be one of the hundreds that attempt to get to the top. Those and the many many cars that literally fly up. It is like the mountain super highway. This makes it really hard to pull up for photos. At at each hairpin there are already two camper vans pitched up ready for when Le Tour comes next week. The Cyclist and I have been here when Le Tour is here. We walked from the bottom to the top, found it was so rammed you couldn’t move, then walked most of the way down to see Le Tour come past. It takes a while to walk it, but I would be as quick as some of these struggling cyclists today.
Up he goes, my Cyclist, overtaking everyone apart from some blond bloke that has been tucked in behind him far ages to get a tow up the mountain. This really infuriates me more than it does The Cyclist, as he would never do that so why should someone else use him as a free ride. I said as much to the cyclist as I drove past. Well it was more like “Cadell Evens is hitching a ride again” so something like that. That bloke was with him right to the top when he stopped to go back down but for the first time we were going over and down the other side to loop back over another mountain to do this was all over again.
The road the other side was like a goat track and has only been opened for the Tour as other years Alpe d’Huez has been a mountain top finish. The Cyclist doesn’t like these as much as he can’t roll down the other side to a finish which he says is the enjoyable part. As usual The Cyclist is much faster then me downhill but today he will be way in front as this is very very narrow, winding with sheer drop offs. There is only room for one vehicle. Oh God. Don’t let anything come the other way.
It was so slow and I got caught in the 3 lots of road works on the loop at the bottom, that The Cyclist had already made a good way back up Alpe d’Huez for the final climb of the day. Now we saw TDF people and he passed those that we saw on his way up. This was their first time up but it was The Cyclists second so he had done well today. At the top I got him an Ice Cream, we had a wander for a few minutes then made our way down the mountain to our B&B at the bottom. The start tomorrow is from the town at the bottom so no transfers.
Soundbites:
Alive – pearl jam
American pie – don McLean
And the band payed on – Saxon

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