Distance: 48 miles. Elevation: 4488 ft.
The whole rationale behind today’s ride was to reverse a route I’d done back in May, to see if was easier this way round. On the earlier ride I’d suffered on a hot sunny day with two long climbs coming at the end of the ride. By reversing the route the ride would end with eleven miles of downhill.
13:27 After climbing for what seemed like forever from Champfromier, I felt the road level up through a tunnel and then descend afterwards, so I’ve stopped here for the first report.
I rushed out this morning because the weather predicted thunder later and there were certainly very heavy clouds around when I left. In my mind it was just a case of how far could I go before I got soaked. So the last thing I was expecting was for it to be mainly sunny. The air is much cooler than lately but because of the thundery weather it’s quite humid so it feels warmer. So I came out with a base layer but nothing in preparation for sun such as an extra bidon of water or my neck protector thing or any sunblock. I used the other bottle cage on my bike to bring my decent waterproof jacket which I felt sure I might need, and arm warmers wrapped around the top bar. Standing here now dictating this, I am dripping. In fact the only drips of water I’ve felt on my knees have been sweat dripping off my head, as opposed to any rain.
That first descent at the beginning of the ride was much longer than I remembered – seven miles in fact – and obviously that was the ascent that I’d suffered badly on the last time I did this ride the other way round, so I was feeling sorry for my old self back then as I sped down the descent today.
In contrast with rides earlier this year when there was plentiful BEF, the forests I’m cycling through today are almost silent, with just a very infrequent gentle chirp to break the silence. The air it is very still.
I had no internet connection this morning so I couldn’t download my route to my Elemnt Bolt. So I’m doing this ride by winging it, hoping I can remember all the villages that I went through last time, but the other way round. That’s virtually unheard of for me. If I’ve got it right I’m approaching a massive descent deep down into a valley and then back up the other side to Belleydoux. I’ve had an energy gel earlier on before the climbing started and I think I’ll have another one now because this climb is coming up soon I’m pretty sure.
There’s hardly any traffic around. During the whole climb I was passed by probably two cars and, standing here for 10-minutes, absolutely nothing has gone by. It’s just dead silent. I knew there was a water tap in Champfromier so I made sure I drank plenty from my bidon before I got there and topped up.
18:00 Report from end. The ride took on a different feel since the previous report. That was the last I saw of the sun. I took another energy gel just after starting on my way again because I knew there was a climb coming up to Belleydoux. So the road descended from that tunnel but then went through some pasture I hadn’t expected but then eventually I did start descending steeply into the Semine valley, and it made me realise what a tough climb that would have been and how it would have taken it out of me on that last ride when I was having trouble.
The climb up the other side of the bridge was much easier. But just before I arrived in Belleydoux I heard the rain falling before I felt it on me. I stopped and put my rain jacket on and rode up to and through the village. I stopped in a sheltered place where there was a water trough or bath. The rain was loud on the metal roof.
I waited there until the rain stopped. I took my rain jacket off again and put it in my back pocket. Further up the road, just outside the village, sign posts at a crossroads confused me because two villages I thought were both on my route were signposted to be in different directions – Les Bouchoux and Moussières.
And it started to rain again so I waited inside some sort of shelter and looked at my phone and try to work out what the hell was going on.
I also ate half my sandwich. I looked at the map for my previous ride and compared with Google Maps on my phone – it looked like I had to turn right so that’s what I did, once the rain had eased again. Shortly into the next section it started raining again so I stopped and put my rain jacket on again.
It was raining off and on for the next hour or so but not enough to get me soaked. In fact it was quite manageable. There was another long ascent.
Several times I had to get my phone out to try to work out which way to go. I certainly recognised loads of things I had seen on my previous ride so I knew those sections of the route must be right, but equally something must have gone wrong because I ended up not going through Les Bouchoux, which is where I had been intending to sit down and eat my sandwich like I had before.
At one point I approached a col sign, and thought ‘yeah, I must be on the right road because I remember this col’ but then when I saw the name, Col de sur la Semine, I realised I was definitely off course.
Later it started raining quite heavily so I stopped and stood under a tree until it eased up. I took the opportunity to eat the other half of my sandwich.
I finally reached the descent into Mijoux, which meant the next and final eight miles were essentially downhill. But that’s when it started raining more heavily and I started getting properly wet, even in my shoes. Vision through my rain-covered glasses became really obscured, so I took the descent carefully. Somewhere near the bottom of that road there was a view along the valley through which I’d soon be riding, and it was completely grey with rain. That was bad news.
I was welcomed into Mijoux with a clap of thunder, and the heavens opened up. I stopped and stood next to a building with overhanging eaves which just about kept me out of direct rain fire.
I stood there for about 15-minutes, watching the rivers of rain running down the road and listening to the thunder.
Eventually it started easing but it’s a good job I didn’t get back on my bike too soon because a few minutes later there was a downfall of hail. That only lasted a couple of minutes, after which I got back on my bike and started the desent down the valley. I took my goggles off for the rest of the ride. It wasn’t raining, but where the roads were wet, lots of water was splashing up on me. So I didn’t go as fast as I normally would have done. I was actually reasonably comfortable still – quite warm even though I was wet. I thought I was going to make it back without any further rain but about a mile from home it started raining again.
Up to a certain point in that ride I actually thought I was going to make it home relatively dry, so it was a shame about the really heavy rain near the end.
I’ll certainly think twice about going out and trying to remember a route without uploading it to my wahoo. It’s just a complete pain.
Later I compared both rides side-by-side and spotted where the error happened. I should have gone straight on at those crossroads in the photo above, Still it didn’t affect much in the end, and I got to claim another col!
The main activity I saw around these parts today was people on their land chopping, sawing and splitting logs, presumably fuel for the winter.
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