Our day started with a long steady climb out of Briancon, a warning to our day ahead. I had the ability to climb Alp d’Huez before in 2010 so I was not too concerned about the climb.
But little did any of us realise the climb to Col de Lauteret was going to be anywhere near as hard as it turned out to be. We all talked about it 3.1% over twenty (20) kms to 2,000m how hard could that be … very! We climbed into a fierce and at times cold headwind all the way up the valley until we reached the summit. The thought of a big mug of hot chocolate at the summit cafe kept me going.
Over the top of Col de Lauteret, a stop for hot chocolate, then down the other side…. fast. It was a thrilling descent to Le Frenay dÓisans for a stop for lunch. I k knew we had Alp d’Huez in front of us so I only had a Coke and a gel … and then off we went again … a continuing long fast descent. We swept around a roundabout and then we were on it … the first ramp up Alp d’Huez.
Now climbing Alp d’Huez is about counting down the twenty one (21) switchbacks, and … keeping going. My goal was to climb without stopping, but that was not to be.
The first and second ramps are long, maybe one (1) kilometre each, and are in the order of 10% or more in places. I was exhausted by the top of the second switchback and had to stop, or fall off my bicycle. I felt totally spent, gasping for breath, but determined. “Missbianchiandme are going to get to the top no matter what or how”’, was all I could think about.
So … switchback by switchback we climbed that mountain, and then we were there at the “’arrivee’’.
What did this mean to me? Well … it means I need to come back another time and try again to climb it without stopping! Will I ever achieve that, who knows, but it’s just something I know I want to achieve. I don’t know where these self set goals come from, but somehow they drive me on.
I’ve dreamt about cycling from Rome to Paris for many years, and I do not know how that dream came about. It just happened and one day that is what I started to think about. The dream was to fly into Rome, buy myself a lovely Italian bicycle and ride it to Paris. It all seemed so simple, and for a long time I felt it was a dream too big for me to realise. The saying is that ‘’we become what we think about’’, and if that is so, then it all sounds so easy. But is it easy, or does the world have a way of deciding what we do or do not achieve, irrespective of what we want for ourselves?
‘’life is what happens while you are busy making other plans’’, John Lennon’s song to his son, Sean