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Le tour de Laffrey from le Velo jaune B and B bourg d’oisans

March 13th, 2014

The time of year has come when the weather has changed from cold days to warmer days.So that means for me to get the bike out from under the dust that has settled on it.

I did go up the valley to Allemont the other day to see how it felt,not good was the answer, my legs gave me.So i thought just get on with and stop moaning!

Saturday was a lovely day so the Laffrey loop was my choice nice and steady.The roads were busy as it was ski change over day but there were no problems from any cars.

Down the valley into a slight headwind and onto the wooded climb up Laffrey then alongside the lake where people were sunbathing even though the lake was frozen over,felt a bit odd that!

Lovely empty roads all the way around to one of my favourite views looking south.

My legs and another part of me were letting me know that I hadn’t been on a bike for 3 months.

Through Valbonnais I knew the worst bit of the day was starting and that was the southern climb of the Col d’Ornon. Not a steep climb but a long one, halfway up if my friend Guy had passed in his van I would have climb aboard. My legs were not mine at this point.

When I passed the ski du fond ……..the climb was finished and so was I.

The great thing about this route is that you finish just outside Bourg D’Oisans so it’s just 5k of flat back to the house except for the small 11m climb over the river.

Glad I did it as we are going cycling with friends in April and I haven’t long to get fit,but it will take more than just one ride I know ?

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First Ski of the Year – Alpe d’Huez

November 17th, 2013

The snow has arrived early, not down with us (Alan has been on his road bike today) but up in the ski resorts. The ski season doesn’t officially start in Alpe d’Huez until Dec 6th but due to the amount of snow at high level they decided to open the glacier area earlier.

This weekend was the first weekend and since we enjoy skiing and the sun was shining we thought why not? so ski gear out and up to Alpe d’Huez we went. The skiing was from Pic Blanc only at 3300m, there is snow at resort level but no where near enough to ski there. We didn’t think it would be that busy but how wrong we were, the lift couldn’t keep up and it took us an hour to get to the snow. On the way up we both lost interest but how that changes as soon as you hit the snow!

I appreciate this sounds daft but until you ski you can’t appreciate it, the fresh air, the snow, the views and zooming down a hill in and out of control on one or two planks (Alan boards and I ski), there is just something about it. Skiing seems to be a bit like riding a bike, you don’t forget how to do it, just a bit rusty to start with, mainly down to nerves.

The slopes weren’t busy, everyone dispersed on the slopes, just the right amount of people. We skied for about 3 hours – non stop! Unfortunately as we were skiing at the glacier no restaurants, we had to wait until we had finished before sitting in the sun having a post ski drink! It was superb and a brilliant taster to whats to come.

The resorts open fully in a few weeks, Les 2Alpes Nov 30th & Alpe d’Huez Dec 6th – we can’t wait.

First ski of 2013 - Alpe d'HUez

First ski of 2013 – Alpe d’HUez

 

From Pic Blanc 3300m - Alpe d'Huez

From Pic Blanc 3300m – Alpe d’Huez

 

Wheels……..

September 2nd, 2013

Well I never thought I would write a blog about bike wheels! I never percieved they would be an interesting subject to me.

Prior to moving to the French Alpes and opening our b&b Le Velo Jaune I had understood about having the lightest bike possible and to me it was important that it looked good, I like ‘nice’ things and am a marketeer’s dream.

Since moving to the mountains, riding up long climbs, Alpe d’Huez, Galibier, Croix de Fer and talking to guests / local cyclists I have learnt a lot about bikes in particular gearing and wheels.

So ‘wheels’ one of the best upgrades you can do to your bike. There are so many factors to consider, weight, alloy / carbon, aero/non aero. For mountains you want the lightest and stiffest alloy wheel you can afford or do you?

Carbon clincher wheels are not suitable for mountains as when descending the heat generated onto the carbon rims does not disapate and it is often the case that tyres blow off, with potentially dire consequences and a loud bang. We have seen this, most notably the guy who was descending Alpe d’Huez to start the Marmotte sportive on a pair of ‘lightweight’ wheels – bang, tyre pops and he’s off. Luckily all ok and he was able to borrow a wheel.

Mavic brought out this year a carbon clincher 40mm wheel with an aluminium insert under the rim in order to overcome the heat disapation issue, they are Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40 C wheels. As ever I am always interested in things that look good and can make my bike look even better and surprisingly (not) the local bike shop Cycles et Sports seems to have worked this out!

This weekend they lent me a pair on test, now I should have said no thanks, why would I want a pair of 40 section, carbon wheels that weigh 300g more than the wheels I have – it goes against everything I have learnt and say to our guests! So I borrowed the wheels and rode the Croix de Fer on Saturday and the Col d’Izoard loop yesterday.

Col d' Croix de Fer

Col d’ Croix de Fer

 

Wow, I never thought I would be able to tell the difference between one wheel and another, well I could and very positively. They were the smoothest wheels I have ever ridden on, no jarring at all, the braking was excellent and when descending I didn’t worry about popping tyres (they say they won’t!) due to heat, the 40mm rims did not seem to cause any wind buffeting and the handling descending was excellent, I had found the handling of my 50mm wheels descending not great.

In conclusion, I loved the wheels not only for all the technical stuff they look superb.

I had to give the wheels back this morning and go back to my very good Mavic R-Sys ones that are alloy and weigh less. They don’t look great as they weren’t bought for the bike I have but they are excellent.

Will I be buying a pair of new heavier, deep section wheels that go against everything I have learnt about cycling up mountains – my head says I shouldn’t too expensive, not a sensible purchase,  my heart says, never say never!

 

Le velojaune B and B to villard Reymond

July 29th, 2013

Today with a couple of good friends we were heading out over the Col d’ornon towards le desert an out and back ride to a lovely spot.But things soon changed when we arrived at the top of the Ornon the head wind was so strong we changed our minds as the descent over would be a bit risky.
So we turned back and headed up to Villard Reymond a very peaceful village set in a huge mountain valley setting.We stopped in the village after the 10k climb,which is missed by a lot of people because it is off the main track.But is a lovely climb.
We went to the cafe but was packed with walkers.
So we had the discussion to see what the track was like over the top to Villard Notra-Dame as I had heard it had had the surface levelled.
Sure enough the track was the best I can remember and was ok to pass on the road bikes with care of course.We were soon heading down the long empty descent from notra-dame.lucky we had the torch for the one large tunnel with a turn in it.To try without the torch would make it interesting.
Back in Bourg time for lunch.
LAlpe -d'Huez5 waterfalls

The first Marmotte ride of the year

June 29th, 2013

A guest wanted to ride the marmotte route and as I like it so much I never miss the opportunity and offered to go with him.

We set off a little earlier than normal about 7.20 as rain was forecast later in the day.
While climbing the Glandon we saw loads of marmottes out roaming, looking for food and playing around.  I dion’t think I have ever seen so many at one time. All the sheep were up the mountains now for their summer holidays!

The descent of the Glandon was fantastic, the road is in great condition and there were no cars as it was still early.

As we turned right at the base and onto the valley road the guests gear cable broke and he was stuck in top gear – Ooops, help required.

We carried on to the next town and managed to get the cable replaced in a bike / chainsaw shop, a very odd place but they did it. This took about a hour.
On to the the Telegraph where we stopped for a sandwich  prior to ascending. A French guy of about 65 years joined us as we were eating ,he was cycling 250 km on his old heavy mountain bike weighing in at 40kgs – respect.

Up the lovely Telegraph climb and down in to Valloire where it was time for a bar and a gel and a bottle top up.  As we started out of the town we could see that the mountains ahead including the Galibier were in cloud. Not ten minutes later it poured down.  When we arrived at the last restaurant the rain had stopped but the wind was so cold we left our jackets on for a while.  We continued to the top where it was snowing very lightly, the Galibier is never an easy climb but always a good one.

There is still lots of snow on the north facing slopes which makes it ccccolder,  about 1’c and the wind was blowing. Glad I had brought my wind proof over trousers saved me freezing on the way down. The viewsThe weather cleared and the views  were fantastic as ever. Once at the col du Lautaret it was warmer.

Unfortunately it was a head wind all the way back home but always a great descent.

The guest carried on to finish the ride by doing Alpe d’Huez.  Did I do Alpe d’Huez —– no.

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