Ever wondered what the roads around here look like in the dead of winter, when the painting from The Tour is hidden beneath snow and ice and is being slowly eroded away by salt and constant grating of the snowploughs?
Here are a few telling images taken during the last week or so. The first is the road at Brunissard, that leads towards the Col de l'Izoard - where the climb really starts. At present it is pisted for snow shoe walkers and cross country skiers. Last Sunday I ventured a few hundred metres up the slope on my cross country skis but was not bold enough to take on the full extent of the climb to the Casse Deserte and on to the summit. The trouble with the skis is you don't have as many gears as you do on a bike! Maybe another day....
This next photo (right) is the Alpe d'Huez Tour finish. As you can see, a wall of snow on the pavements and all of the hotels full of skiers; a much livelier, if colder, place in the winter.
Finally, the Col du Lautaret (bottom right). Well, you can just about see it in the background there behind Guy. I took this on Tuesday afternoon from the warmth and comfort of our minibus. We were travelling home and this was the quickest route, though the highest at 2058m. Guy had to get out to de-ice the wipers en-route as the snow was freezing to the windscreen in a blizzard and foggy white-out.
The Alps are a different beast in winter in comparison to the summer months. It always amazes me that after such harsh and extreme conditions, the landscape, flora and fauna can recover so quickly and give us the brightly coloured, sunny scenes that us cyclists are more used to experiencing on these mountain roads.