Yep, it is time to look ahead to the summer. I got a timely reminder from British Cycling as their latest email contained a 4 week programme of climbing preparation. Now at 6’2″ and well North of 16 stone I am not climber build, I’m not even remotely fast uphill either, but the purity of cycling comes from climbing, in my opinion.
I have had a love affair with the Col de la Madeleine and as I’m stopping opposite it for the 4th year in a row, surely I must try an ascent of it again. I tried on my first trip and sadly I was denied as the remnants of an avalanche cut me short as debris was strewn across the road, as far as the eye could see, from just under 7kms to the top. It was blessing though as at almost 1,600m above sea level I was cooked. My body had had the biggest shock of my life.
It was disappointing not to reach the top but, in that first visit to the Alps, I had greatly underestimated the challenge. Testimony to which came in 2014 when I did the Col D’Iseran just a year later. At 2,770m above sea level to the Madeleine’s 1,993m it was a good step up. The difference was in 2014 I knew something of what the Alps can do to you physically.
A year later and a similar climb, the Col du Petit St. Bernard, was more like the Madeleine in altitude and length of ride. That too had its challenges as I misjudged my water reserves, ending up taking fresh snow melt at the roadside in a fit of desperation, and I was playing with fire when it came to the weather forecast. 4kms out from the top and the threatened thunderstorm hit. Those last few kilometres were lonely if not hard, as everyone else had taken shelter, I was the only stupid soul on the road.
Now it is 3 years on surely the Madeleine is worth another visit? Maybe, maybe not as my plans are not finalised yet as the Dauphine will dictate what I ride and when. April will see the final route published, rumours is all we have until then. I wouldn’t bet against a ride on part if not all of the Madeleine, as like a moth I am drawn to the light. The lady of the Alps has got me.