Sun 10 May 2009 17:01 BST
Yesterday was the second time that we have ridden the 'Randonnée de Belledonne' and it has now established itself as one of my favourite events in our area.
It's a great time of year to ride in the Alps, not only because of the perfect riding conditions (around 17 to 20 degrees C), but also because it's just at that time in spring when everything is at its' best. We were treated to beautiful blossom, flowers, an abundance of green foliage and content looking 'picture postcard' cows grazing in lush pastures.
The route (route map and profile.) gives great views of the plain around Grenoble (surprisingly, the flattest city in France) and also uninterrupted views of the length of the Vercors mountain range.
The only disappointment of the day were the feed stations which had been great last year and always act as my 'carrot on a stick'. Unfortunately this year nothing much was on offer but plates of crumbs - had we missed a passing plague of locusts? Fortunately the second feed station of the day, which was equally as barren as the first, was next to a restaurant with a sunny terrace. An emergency omelette pit stop to fuel us for the final and biggest climb of the day, up to the ski resort of Chamrousse.
This year there was slightly more snow hanging about at this the highest point of the ride (1,700 metres). The climb to the resort (we rode from the south side) is fairly steady averaging 4-5% for the first few kms and then a slightly steeper section of 6-7%. The reward is an exhilarating 18km descent down to Uriage (passing close to the Col de Luitel) on perfectly surfaced roads.
Dan and Will banked a valuable 110kms and 2,300 metres of climbing towards their Marmotte cyclosportive training, and our friend Colette enjoyed her longest ride and first organised cycling event in nearly 4 years. Everyone came back home on a high in time for the Giro d'Italia team time trial and Cavendish pulling on the pink jersey.