Day 12: Col du PrÃ©
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 PrÃ© 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.
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.
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 PrÃ© 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).
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.
With everybody gathered together, we stopped for lunch at the top of Col du PrÃ©. 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.