Thursday, September 15, 2011

Martigny to Bourg Saint Maurice -- Stage 1 of "Tour du Mont Blanc"

Now the fairly long in advance set tight time frame of exactly three days available for this tour has come and after a long time Py meet once in a while his old friend Ben back in Bern to go out and ride "big". He came shortly up with this 2 1/2 day ride plan joining a few great passes he knew already and putting in a few new good looking climbs and descents. We did not had any constrains, just started out in the morning with an approximate destination/distance to go in mind to find a good looking hotel on the spot. Taking the absolute minimum of gear to change for dinner plus the essentials if weather turns bad. Py ended up with a total pay load of 3.5kg at max -- just varying with the amount of snacks stuffed in. Thursday morning driving to the start in Martigny.

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Thursday, 9:40, Martigny -- rolling out of the parking lot up the road to the Gran San Bernardo pass. A gentle to moderate incline of 2..4% right away as warmup for about 20 minutes before the grade went up and never below 6% averaging around 7..8%, big road, decent but narrow shoulder some heavy truck traffic on this major North-South connection. But not to bad at all. Few tunnels and galleries, nice scenery and picture perfect weather, ideal temperature. Just climbing away the 1st section up to about 1800 meters until we finally left the main road and traffic cutting of the mountain top via a tunnel and we kept climbing and now much more enjoying a virtually traffic free final ascent to the top of the Gran San Bernard.

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Little snack just after entering the top part of the pass. From here a few more switchbacks to the top (2), the road is steepening up a little to 10..12% for the last 500 meters of climbing.
Glad this first long 2000m elevation gain climb went all fine and felt good having it out of the way! Py's new record for the longest road bike climb.


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On top we were passing the Kloster famous for the Bernadiner dog and had a great view.


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From here a initially nice and long downhill finishing up on bigger roads into Aosta (3), Italy. Brief stop for some bike re-adjustments as the saddle came a bit loose, little snack and a coffee.

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Topping off water and heading on to the next climb up to Colle San Carlo (4). This was going to be a tough one -- 1500m climbing, but on a pretty decent grade of 10..14% and at a few times steepening up to 20% -- not to mention that we just climbed 2000m up to Grand San Bernardo... -- this made the "Devils Kitchen" in the Cats looking and feeling like a joke -- at least all over and with the current gearing o-] (sorry to say that) But after some good time of cranking it up, standing quite a bit the top came in to sight. One more down.

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Nice short descent into La Thuile (5), lunch.

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Then the last climb of the day up to Col du Petite-Saint-Bernard (6) a little more moderate and very welcome climb at the end of the day.

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... and a great descent into Bourg Saint Maurice.
**(video to be edited)**

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Counting in 4'180 m elevation gain on 165 km in only 3 climbs.
Moving into out first night stay hotel, little shopping, dinner and good night.

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