Day 30: Upper Valley part deux :)

So today is chiefly a work day. I’m on my last score for editing and it’s a big one. I’ve also got the place to myself today so I spent the morning drawing pretty diagrams in Adobe Illustrator.

After my not so nice ride yesterday I was anxious to get back on the bike in the afternoon for a short-ish ride, to prove to myself that I did enjoy it. I decided that what would be a good thing to do was to go up the upper valley again and compare it with my ride a couple of weeks ago and see how I had improved.

My goal, if I had one, was a) to get all of the way up the valley this time (I stopped about 1.5km from the end last time), b) to stop as little as possible on the way up and c) to do it in a significantly shorter time than last time.

It was pretty windy out so I prepared for the worst and wore leggings and a windproof. By the time I got into Nevache, though, I was so hot that I needed to strip off a bit, and luckily there was a local galoubets-tambourins band playing “You can keep your hat on” and an audience of screaming teenage girls to help me along, otherwise it would have been a bit awkward.

Got (pant) to the top (gasp, pant, swig water) of the big climb (pant, pant) without (pant) stopping!

I made it up the col with not too much bother, although I was pretty out of breath, and stopped at the top, but it was pretty awesome cycling past the places where I previously had to get off and walk. I had forgotten, when I got to the first chapel, that the little hill up to the second chapel was an absolute swine. In many ways I got more out of breath going up that than the rest of the long climb put together!

This little hill is a swine.

I then proceeded up the valley, deliberately not stopping and, better, not feeling that I had to stop. No pictures from this bit I’m afraid – I decided to keep going as much as I could. I got to the point at which I turned back previously and carried on up the second stiff climb at the top of the valley.

On y va!

At the top was the Refuge de Laval, and a beautiful lush little plateau with a few pretty chalets. The road carried on through this little ville and to a car-park, the end goal of my trek up the valley.

Little ville at the top of the valley. Very pretty. The Refuge Laval is a bit off to the right and, like everything, closed…

The view from the car park was pretty beautiful. I’d been up here previously in fact. Years ago, I remember starting a walk here, crossing a mountain, and having to say “bonjour!” on the way up and “bonjorno!” on the way down. There are lots of very nice walks up there that I’d like to try another day (and probably will!).

Sir Bikesalot enjoying some attention. Good boy Sir Bikesalot.

I then sped down the valley, checking my speed a bit this time as there was quite a lot of head-wind and the roads were narrow with sometimes precipitous drops down one side. Otherwise though my descent was fun and uneventful. I got back home in good time and felt great for the ride.

Not bad! Could be better.

So how did it compare? Oddly there wasn’t a huge difference – last time Cyclemeter only seemed to record the ascent last time and the time was 10 minutes more than my total time this time, ascent seemed to be less (477-502) but I think the previous version of Cyclemeter was less accurate on altitude. Crucially, the average speed today was 12.8km/h as compared with 9.9km/h the other day. A definite improvement.

I should do this route again some time and really try to bomb it up and down, see what happens…

Well, that was fun. A good ride. à demain tout-le-monde!

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