Yesterday, May 29th, the Galibier has reopened. A great reason for the lads from our hotel partner La Douce Montagne to ride the route of La Marmotte. They came home with the most beautiful pictures and a nice report. Enjoy!
Where we live in France, the lock down lasted until the 11th of March. In the previous 2 months, outside sports was limited to an hour of walking or jogging, not further than 1 kilometre from home. Cycling was therefore impossible, to at the 10th of May we made sure the bikes were more than ready to take them out right away from the moment it would possible again. That's exactly what happened, and we set goal. The warm spring was doing us good, so Maarten Alfrink (owner of Auberge La Douce Montagne) and Vincent Dijckmans (employee at the hotel) suspected the high cols would reopen faster than normal.
Rumours said the Galibier would open the 29th of May, which would mean we unlocked. So, why not ride the route of La Marmotte? Just before June 2nd, the weekend in which the "normal" life would begin again. That also applies to bars and restaurants; Auberge La Douce Montagne will also reopen that day. A crazy plan, La Marmotte in May? We haven't done it before, certainly not with only a 3 week preparation. Well, we're not looking for personal records anyway, these days are over. It's all about enjoying ourselves and... seeing those snow walls.
The confirmation follows on Friday afternoon, 16:00: the Glandon and Galibier are open! No one can stop us now. Our gear is ready, bikes are prepped. We'll depart the next morning at 7:00 from Allemond. Obviously it's a bit chilly at the start, but during the first climb to the dam and later on the Glandon, we're warmed up. We're simply enjoying a peaceful and quiet landscape: the world seems to be ours. We don't waste time at the summit. We put on our highly necessary jackets for the descent.
It's only in the Maurienne valley that we see other cyclists who are exploring on this beautiful day - not the first one this "spring". After the valley, we're riding the Télégraphe. Normally, I always stop at the top for a double espresso with blueberry pie. A nice reward because half of the challenge is done. This time, we'll have to skip that one; bars/restaurants are still closed. We've taken extra food with us, so we don't starve. We don't stop long because we can't wait for the next one: the Galibier.
As expected, we're riding through snow walls a few times. Anyone who has experienced this, understands our feelings of utter happiness. This is awesome! After riding over the summit, we have some fun in the descent and ride towards Bourg d'Oisans. We're ready for the dessert: Alpe d’Huez. Normally, desserts are sweet and tasty but this one isn't. Our poor preparation comes into play. We knew if beforehand. Every corner hurts and seems to take forever. We're not giving up and after some epic suffering, we reach the stop. We're unlocked! Marmotte 2020, you were awesome!
Text and pictures: Maarten Alfrink.Related stories