This morning we rose early, ate breakfast, and hopped on our bikes without all of our luggage. Upon leaving the campground we turned left and in a matter of seconds we were riding over words painted on the roadway. Go go go. Allez FDJ. This way to the top.
We started gaining altitude but leveled off briefly as the road veered to the right nearly 180 degrees. The first switchback. A sign on the rock wall on the outside of the turn read *21*. The countdown began. Twenty more switchbacks to go until we reached the ski lifts at the top of what in the sport of road cycling is the most famous climb in the world.
As someone who has enjoyed the sport for many years, I knew that I wanted to come to this, the south eastern part of France, home of the Alps, in order to ride this climb, as so many thousands of cyclists have done since it was introduced in the Tour de France decades ago.
We were on the road early enough to have it mostly to ourselves. We would only see the scores of other cyclists making their pilgrimage to the top as we were rolling back down. In the mean time it was just us and the mountain, one switchback at a time to reach the top of L’Alpe d’Huez.
Leaving the Alps
When we returned to our campground we packed up our stuff and then rolled out. An event on L’Alpe d’Huez the following day made us eager to flee from the crowds.
Even though the road was busy we had a nice 25km descent to reach Vizille. It was so hot though that we needed to get out of the sun. Lucky for us the old château in town was now a museum about the French revolution.
It was nice to learn more about the revolution. It was doubly nice to be in an air conditioned building.