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Published: June 19th 2017
Off into the sun
For our first day of 'real' climbing we persuaded the hotel to open breakfast 15 minutes early so we could try to avoid the heat of the day as much as possible, and at 8:10 I grew tired of waiting for the assembled masses to get their acts together and set off on my own into the sun and wind. It was already warm and I rode slowly (yeah, like I had a choice), still unsure what kind of climbing shape I was in.
Some sustained grunting upwards eventually yielded a lovely downhill run that continued across a broad valley before snaking upwards again on the other side, a pattern that would repeat itself (albeit with varying valley breadth and pavement quality) many times over throughout the day. One such run across the Ain river led to a long climb that pitched upwards at 15% for a time (or so I am told) but fortunately the pavement there was smooth (at least on the way up), and I was relieved to discover my aged legs could still handle that sort of thing. At some point a fierce wind picked up, too, but fortunately it was a cool one, which made
The church at Meyriat (duh)
it more tolerable; mercifully, some climbs were shaded as well, but those that weren't were like infernos.
With a big climb ahead of me tomorrow (I will be riding the alternate route so I can get a crack at the Col du Grand Colombier, something I missed last time through here), I elected to ride just the nominal route today. The first col I encountered was hardly worth mentioning (although tradition required that I record the event photographically), as the approaches mentioned earlier were very much tougher. At first the route to col #2 seemed to require some effort, although it was hard to say if that was due to the grade, the rough road surface that impeded rolling, or perhaps even just the heat of the day: in several places the tar in the roads was actually melting, causing tires to stick and the road to pop like bubble wrap when we went over it. In any case, col#2 soon proved itself to be much like its predecessor, as its initial approach dissipated into a 'summit' even less dramatic than the first.
All in all I began to wonder if the alternate route might have been if
Down then up and over yet another ridge
not easier, then at least a more rewarding choice but I later learned those who rode it had the same misgivings about the nature of the so-called cols they went over. Things here are very much asymmetrical, though: following col #2 I got to enjoy (as much as one can with signs warning of gravillon and tar melting beneath one's wheels) a 10+km descent to the hotel, where unfortunately the van didn't arrive until 2-1/2 hours later. Things are indeed hilly here: the entranceway to the shopping centre has a sign warning of a 10% grade.
All in all I was happy with my 'old and slow' approach to the day, but it seems that in spite of all the riding I may actually be gaining weight on this tour. At the very least I am redistributing it as my upper body atrophies; it wouldn't be so bad if my legs were growing at the same rate, but I think my middle is expanding.
Finally, I need to explain the absence of photos of charming French villages: this is my 5th trip to France and those views are so commonplace that I can't be bothered to record them.
Remember that church?
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