CCC2013 Stage Three
Sisteron to Briancon
192km 4421m of climbing
I'd been looking forward to this stage, hopefully to finally climb the Col D'Izoard. It had to be missed on the 2009 CCC due to snow and I had been worried that again weather might curtail the stage. However there would be other things that would, teasingly, make me think I'd never get up, what many describe as their favourite climbs in the Alps.
Firstly the knee again, it wasn't feeling strong at all and required some elaborate colour coded taped with Dr Kenzo's genius Kinesio tape. The first 35km today was a gradual uphill reaching a crescendo at the top of the very picturesque Col des Sagnes, with its beautiful switchbacks. Then what was I was increasingly thinking was becoming the curse of the Izoard struck again. (The previous day our premonitional mechanic Jonnie had told me my rear wheel was on it's last legs and would fail soon. So I had asked lead scout Anton to purchase a new set in Briancon). Just after the descent of the Sagnes my rear wheel blew as the rim collapsed. I was very lucky moments before I had been travelling fast downhill and had just slowed to turn a corner when it happened.
The team Jag was soon with me and a Dogma was quickly and skilfully adjusted to suit by Jonnie. In no time I was moving again as my poor Prince was relegated to the top of the Jag. Lunch was taken at a great spot by a bridge and waterfall as we prepared for the steep Col de Pontis, that even at a relaxed pace would test my knee. It was getting hot as we passed the beautiful lake that would be the venue for the Tour de France Time Trial this year, and I ran out of water but a fountain with ice cold fresh water sorted me out.
Another school boy error yesterday (do I ever learn?), I tried a new recovery drink. Now these drinks are pretty essential when doing a lot of miles but it's always wise to stick with what your body is used it. I've been using the same make and favour for 3 or 4 years now but was tempted by another last night and suffering now, but nothing was going to prevent me from getting to the Izoard. The 14km climb was great, opening out in the higher slopes revealing superb views. We met some new friends as a coach load of very friendly French old crusties were following us up. The top had plenty of snow still but the road was clear. Then it was just a lovely 17km descent to our hotel in Briancon.
Slight confusion in trying to location our room in the hotel. Initially all room numbers had three digits but our key had four. We were pointed to a different side of the building but the lift only went to the fourth floor and our room was on the fifth. Out of the lift and no stairs were obvious to this elusive fifth floor. By this stage we had imagined being in the presidential penthouse suite. Stairs were located through a small door and everything started getting smaller and smaller as we traipsed up, finally entering a pretty pokey box attic room. No matter despite not really being able to stand upright it was a cute place to crash. In fact the shower room was bigger. Having a good roommate is pretty essential on such an arduous trip and I could room with Dave Ward for weeks, we have such a laugh.