Hot, Hot, Haute Alps for two Classic Col Cycle Tours

Cycling Cols in Tropical Heat? No Sweat!

A 1,350m climb up the classic Col du Galibier or a 5 hour 116km circuit up Col d'Izoard are always tough but with 40C in the Haute Alps cycling becomes a gruelling test of stamina - and salt reserves...

On Tuesday I cycled down to Briancon before turning around to do the ascent up to the Col du Lautaret and then on up to the Col du Galibier, just over 1,350m of climbing and 70km.

It was a tough ride in the heat as temperatures were in the mid to high 30s.

As you can see there is still snow around even with this heat.

col du Galibier
 

Having learnt my lesson two days before leaving too late in the current heat, on Thursday I started out at 07:00 for a circuit that takes around five hours and climbs the Col d'Izoard from the steeper southern side, La Boucle d'Izoard.

By 08:45 the temperature was 20C and quickly rose into the high 20s for the start of the climb and once on the main section in the 30s, peaking at 39C on the last 5km. Back down to Briancon and home it was in the 40s.

My actual moving time was 6hrs 15min taking it very very easy.

After speaking to a mate who got into a bit of a state earlier in the week (owns a bike shop) I took his advice and in one bottle with cheapo isotonic drink I shovelled in some salt. Apart from tasting horrible, (used the other bottle of unsalted isotonic to take the taste away), it seems to have helped, as there was little in the way of salt stains, and I was not in my usual bad state, post-ride cramping up. There again I did take it very easy, and the great thing is this time of year all the fountains in the villages work so you can dunk your head and fill your bottles.