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July 11, 2005 - Ride from Hotel in Aiegueblanche France

Ride Col de la Madeleine









Well, we woke up this morning wondering what it was going to be like climbing the Col de la Madeleine. When all was said and done, it was a long, but straightforward climb.









Upon leaving the hotel, we headed north a bit through the valley road that ran along the main highway, a river and through an industrial area. We crossed a neat little bridge and soon we saw the sign pointing to the top. The lower portion of the climb passed though a heavily forested area and had some steep sections. This switchback was one of my favorites.









There was quite a bit of interesting scenery while climbing and some of it was not for the feint of heart! If you were nervous about steep drops with little barriers, then I can see this wasn't the climb for you.

I seemed to be riding pretty well today, passing lot's of riders and not getting passed by many.

The black flies were miserable. There was one stretch where I seemed to attract every fly in France. I would have believed that too if Paul hadn't have told me the same thing. On the other hand, the animal was climbing so fast, and focused, he never noticed any flies.

One of the more interesting sights was the alpine meadows that were loaded with cows. As you’d ride past, they just seemed to stare and watch
There are signs with directions to everywhere in the Alps. Makes riding these climbs really simple! Yeah right! The Col de la Madeleine is a lot further than 3 Km from this sign!

The top was pretty busy with a mix of campers and cyclists. The bar was a popular place which we also took advantage of to have some coffee, soda and a quick Power Bar snack.

The scenery on these Alpine summits has to be seen to be believed.

One of the more fun things that goes on on the summits is the famous group picture in front of the signs marking the top. Everyone queues up and waits for their group shot.

Below are our shots, one of Tom and me and one of the three of us. Unfortunately whoever took out group picture for us must have been exhausted from the climb to take such a weird angle!

One of the great things about these Alpine passes is that they almost all have a bar at the top where you can reward yourself with a coffee or hot chocolate (or beer for that matter) after a long hard climb. Here’s a couple shots of us enjoying ourselves on the Madeleine.

Little did we know we'd revisit this place again in 2007 where we'd climb the other side of the Madeleine from St Jean de Mauriene.

The descent from the Col de la Madeleine was fast and smooth, and we were able to enjoy the wonderful views as we went.

I could have posted dozens of pictures like these here, but I think you can get the picture why this is one of my very favorite climbs in the Alps. Of course, there are many others too!

We found this interesting sign post during a break on the descent. It was right around my favorite hairpin turn. Didn't notice it though during all the suffering on the ascent.  Might have led to us never making it to the top?

Total Ascent Distance: 30.3 km (18.2 miles)

Distance Climbed: 5098 ft

Time: 2 Hours 4 Minutes (Ascent)





After getting cleaned up back at the hotel, we decided to scope out the road to Moutiers which we planned to use to get to Courchevel tomorrow. On the drive it really wasn't evident that there was an alternate to the main highway. (Although after the tour stage, I saw people riding on what in hindsight appeared to be a bike path.) Based on our reconnaissance, we decided to drive to Vigo's hotel in order to ride up the mountain with them in the AM. Tonight, we decided to stop and visit. Since they had dinner as a part of their trip, we set off to scope out Moutier once again in search of food.

Moutiers was quite beautiful. It would have been the place to stay in the area ... Opposed to the one light room! They also have fantastic tire repair shops ... remember the flat tire we had leaving Nimes? Well, we tried to get it repaired in Moutiers but couldn't since the sidewall was ruined. After explaining our situation, the repair shop was nice enough to give us an old tire for free to function as a spare. Luckily, we never needed to see if it would have really worked!













































When we started climbing, we were in the forest valley, but as we continued upwards, it was clear we were heading towards the clouds