Up until today, it has been about the tour. But today it was about the bike. The passes or Cols. Le boug d'Ossains is a cycling mecca. It is about the bike here. Not only do they have one of the best bike clothing shops (apologies to Ash) I've seen, they are at the base of many of the great climbs - including the famous l'alpe d'huez. Not the highest nor the toughest, but thanks to the heroics of Lance over the last few years, the famous.
Jac was here to make the most of the day. Two Cols in one ride - Col du Laurtaret (2057m) and Col du Galibier 2642. After a lovely 5km the climbing started - and aside from a few down hills. Making her way up the beautiful valley, she went through tunnels with signs requesting cars to be 1.5 m away; passed hydro stations, was cheered as she went through the beautiful village of La grave. As she climbed, the river became a creek and then a stream fed by the melting snows covering the peaks of the alpes. The grand trees gave way to bushes then grassey fields covered in the summer wild flowers. Leo and Joe would appreciate the cows and sheep with bells around their necks. At the top of the passes, there was bareness.
At the Col Du Laurtaret, low on water and out of food, Jac contemplated for a brief second turning around. Only 8 km to go she wasn't coming this far not to get to the top. Steady as she goes, unlike the first 40 km, there was company descending and ascending. The bidons were filled with fresh mineral water from the running streams and with regained confidence up she went. Switch back after switch back. Allez the descending cyclists called - Italians, French, Germans - no Australians and few females. Mc Kewan, Yell for Cadel, Rogers, Sanchez, Go Lance, Voight, Rogers. Alberto Their names, while fading were all written on the roads. Jac couldn't see WOOD - but oh well.
The last pinch was short but a reminder of why this is one of the good ones. But after the photos, there was till more work on the brakes for the descent. 40, 60, 70 km/ph. Back through the cool tunnels. Down to the shade of the trees and the head wind rushing up the valley. Back off the climb and pushing for home. Bonjour Mark - thank god I'm home.
After lunch we headed into town for Coffee (yuck) and coke and a TV. Quickly the Cafe de paris became a little piece of Australia. A tour group from Cronulla had also adopted the bar as their home for their stay here. There was 80 km to go on the tour and the group of 2 made 3, then 4 then 15. They'd returned from Mont de Lans - a brief 30 km ride up. We were waiting for the attack - there was Basso, Menchov, Contador, Schleck Sastre, S. Sanchez.There had been crashes earlier in the stage but there were more, with Lance going down twice in the final 80 km. However as the peleton crossed, 10 s behind Schlekc and Sanchez, there was a huge roar from the pub. Contador looked behind at Cadel - Cadel had taken yellow.
Mark took inspiration from Cadels yellow jersey and headed up L'Alpe D'huez on Jac's bike. For the first 15 mins, Jac kept looking out the window at the sound of a bike. Bu then he was back - there wasn't enough compact in the compact cranks. He'd had his little piece of L'alpe - hair pin number 1. We'll fly Emirates next time and bring his bike.
and as we sign off, all the people in the park are watching the world cup - they're dressed in orange, with red, white and blue smatterings and licence plates with NL. There is the cheer, it sounds as though it's just started....