Today we tested how hard riding in the Alps can be. We arose at dawn and from our campsite immediately began to climb the slopes of the Col de La Croix de Fer. It’s a climb often featured the Tour de France, and for good reason, it’s a beast.
The Croix de Fer is 29km long with a total elevation gain of 1645 meters. Although the average gradient of 5.2% sounds mild, there are several sections of extended grades reaching 10%. The climb is considered to be the 12th toughest in France.
It took us about 3.5 hours to reach the top. The record stands at just over one hour, held by French professional cyclist Thibaut Pinot. Maybe if we didn’t have our panniers, we would have dethroned Pinot.
When we got to the top we had some Cokes at the bar to help us recover. Lots of other cyclists gradually came up as we lingered over our drinks, in no hurry to move.
The descent to Le Bourg d’Oisans was long and steep. Carrie hated it because she thought her brakes were going to fail. But we made it down unscathed.
The campground we checked into was at the base of the legendary Alpe d’Huez, which we planned to climb as a day ride the following day. But first we had a dip in the campground pool. The last several days have been really hot. The pool felt so nice.