The First Descent
Fueled by early morning warm croissants, pan au chocolat and wonderfully aromatic french coffee, descending from over 10,000 feet from the wooden clad chalet in Oz en Oisans high in the French Rhône-Alpes, a group of cyclists plummet down the winding road. Reaching speeds at times of over 50mph. The brakes let out a high pitched squeal as one after the other they pull hard on the levers to take the first sharp fast right hand bend, knowing a mistake will put an end to the weeks cycling ahead of them, oh and might hurt a bit. The blur beside them, the side of the mountain rushing by goes from a blur to something that can be focused on before picking up speed toward the next corner.
The ‘A’ Team as they came to be known reached the bottom and wait for those that are a little less gung ho in descending, regroup and cycle across the Allemont dam, water on the right with spectacular backdrop of more mountains and they all start to chat about the route ahead, the passes coming up and the expected days high temperatures in the high 30’s. The weeks only begun and the pain, fun and fantastic food are yet to start.
Anyway, that was the start of last years A-Team trip..
This Year’s Alpine Trip
As Paddy our esteemed Chairman mentioned in his recent Pyrenees report, there is another group going to France again this year. Before leaving Oz en Oisans last year we had agreed another trip this year, trying pastures new, Italy or returning to the Alps. We decided as a group to return to the Alps, after only a week’s riding, there are still many more miles of wonderful French D road cycling heaven to sample, not being put off by the 2,000 feet climb at the end of a long days cycling back to the chalet and without a van backup to return home each day adds to the challenge.
Last year there were six in our group, this year we are up to nine, with over half deciding to try out the out the Rhone Alpes area with the returning group for the first time.
Whilst last year we’d ridden up many of the col’s, there are still many more yet to be sampled. Due to a navigational error on the longest days riding last year (88.5 Miles) we rode the Glandon, Col du Mollard and Croix de Fer but missed out the Tour de Frances new legendary climb to Montvernier, with 18 hairpin bends we were a little gutted that we simply rode past it by accident..
There is still the reverse route to the top of the Alpe d’ Huez via Clavans le Bas where our Italian friend Terry famously tried headbutting the side of the mountain after flying past the rest of the group like a cat with a scolded tail when we came down the other way. A technical descent straight off of the top of the back of the mountain, gravel covered tracks with tight hairpin bends and tractors and other vehicles along the way making for some tight passes. Going up it should be much safer..
Last years A Team, still proudly known as the A Team, the stats below highlighting the A team averaged more miles per individual ride, more elevation per rider and a higher total elevation climbed. However the B Team did manage to ride over the week 10 miles more in total thanks to a couple hours of extra solo rides. Also noted were that none of the A teams rides were flagged on Strava for taking KOM’s in a motor vehicle.. 🙂
In the winter Oz is a thriving ski resort and the summer it becomes a mountain and road bikers dream holiday location. For any other club members who would like to sample the cycling in Oz-en-Oisan, you can request further information through the club contact page.