Day 12: Col du Pré

Good news. We can still move after biking up a mountain yesterday, so let’s do a couple more! Today we bike the Col du Pré at 1748 meters (5735 feet) and then Cormet de Roselend at 1967 meters (6453 feet). Our exact route is a portion of the Stage 11 Tour de France route the riders will bike on Wednesday.

Dave hooks up the trailer

Preparing the bikes in Albertville

As with yesterday, the varsity team started the day several km farther out from the col in the city of Albertville. We got off on the next stop as Amy drove us to Areches, a village about 11 km from the base of the col at roughly 1000 meters elevation.

Arriving in Areches with Amy

Based on information from Dave — and cycling websites — we were aware that today’s route was going to be more challenging than yesterday. No kidding. Even though the climb from Areches to the Col du Pré is only 11 km, the average grade clocks in at about 9 or 10 percent with some sections cracking 13. When the Tour comes by here on Wednesday, the climb is classified as ‘HC’ which means it’s beyond the difficulty of their usual scale of five to one (one being hardest).

Jo powers up the first switchbacks above Areches

If you farm well, you get awards for your rafters, just like pro sports

I got off to a rough start and struggled with the switchbacks as they got steeper and steeper. There are absolutely no flat sections for any sort of relief, which made it trickier to gain any momentum to get back on the bike and clip in. When the support van passed, I decided it was best to get a ride to the top and get back on the bike for the next section. Meanwhile, Matt continued on the road and somehow pedaled all the way to the top.

Some serious switchbacks

Paparazzi getting shots of Matt on Col du Pré

Don’t worry Jo, some trucks can’t handle the switchbacks either

Good news, 2 km left; Bad news, 10.7% AVERAGE grade

That was insane, but… Mont Blanc! (mostly)

With everybody gathered together, we stopped for lunch at the top of Col du Pré. Matt and I smartly split a delicious salad and avoided tummy aches. After settling the check, everybody got back on their bikes (me too!) and descended to Lac de Roselend, where we passed over the reservoir dam.

Made it in time to steal a few bites from Jo’s salad

Our group and Lake Roselend

Route to Cormet de Roselend heads up on opposite side of lake

The most epic Paul photo

From Lake Roselend at 1557 meters, the route to Cormet de Roselend is roughly 8 km. Paul, Phil and Martha stayed on the road and knocked out the whole thing. Matt jumped out of the van to do the last 4 km to the summit. Jason and I took it easy in the wagon. The road was already filling up with camper vans for the Tour in two days, creating quite a fun atmosphere.

One left to go!

People already claiming their spots for Wednesday

The cows will have an excellent view too

Passing over the Cormet de Roselend, the next part of the ride was a long and technical decent down to Bourg Saint-Maurice. Although I descended well off Col du Petit Saint Bernard yesterday, I didn’t feel as comfortable with today’s slightly more death-defying route, so I continued my van adventure. Meanwhile, Matt cruised down the mountain on his bike (cautiously, of course).

Descending carefully… at up to 35 mph!

Doing my best to stay out of alpine ravines

We all met up at the bottom in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, which is the same city we descended to yesterday (from a different direction). From there, we all rode the same 15 km bike path back to the van waiting for us.

Hanging with the varsity team peloton

By the end of the day, Matt logged about 32 miles and almost 4,000 feet in elevation gain. Thank goodness we have several bottles of Cider left to drink upon our return to the Chalet. We relaxed, ate a delicious dinner of homemade ratatouille, and hung out with our biking compatriots into the evening before checking in for the night.

3 Comments on “Day 12: Col du Pré”

  1. Geesch! Do they have run-a-way lanes for bikers on those crazy steep grades? 😉 Such beautiful scenery! Joanna you’ll be all rested up for tomorrow. And Matthew, if that is a go pro on your helmet, it looks like you have a big bolt running into your head! Lol! Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

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