Yeah, had it going round inside my helmet almost all day long.
Today was about ambition. It was, I admit, a bit of a triumph of hope over expectation as well. Four times I’ve set out to ride over the Col du Galibier. Twice I’ve been beaten by crap weather, twice by closed roads. Given that I awoke to clear blue September skies and a decent forecast, whoever you asked, today was going to be my day, I guess. However, until I passed the first sign saying “Galibier Ouvert” as I weaved up the Col du Telegraphe I didn’t dare believe it, to be honest. We were in “too good to be true” territory.
Bikies amongst you can sneer now. I am talking about motorcycling the Galibier, not pedalling. Well, sneer if you’ve done it, perhaps. I passed dozens of riders today giving it their all. Young and less young. Those few who reached the summit in the hour when I was there adequately demonstrated what it meant to them.
My heart did sink when I came to a sign just past Valloire saying “Route Barré a 400m” but it was just a small detour around a collapsed culvert.
What made the ascent even better was the near total absence of other traffic. I was running a video camera bolted to the bike and looking at the film later, I really didn’t dream those clear roads.
Views north and south from the 2,645 metre summit were huge. The small, scruffy carpark was filled with good-humoured German and Italian riders. There was no wind, just contented voices and the sound of camera shutters.
I filmed my descent to the Col du Lautaret as well. Once I can download the stuff, I might put it on YouTube, but it’s really going to be for playing back over and over again on the telly screen when I get home.
I’m not enough of a Tour de France scholar to know whether the Tour ever does the Galibier in the north-south direction I rode it in today. The traditional televised battles go the other way, up the steep but short side. But I am blown away at the thought that the Galibier is seldom the first steep pass on those days, and never the last. This year, as several others, have ended on the Alpe d’Huez.
The inner tourist has been well satisfied today.
The Lou Reed reference? You decide whether it was “Wild Side” or “Perfect Day”.