Another beautiful sunny day. Set off without a plan in the Bourg direction and decided to explore above the village of les Chapelles.
The Ride. Arrived at the start of the narrow winding road that I noted a couple of days ago and I’m immediately faced with a ridiculously steep hill. I knew from previous experience that fluffing-up the navigation at this point could ruin the day, so I kept a very close eye on my GPS to check that I was on a road that lead somewhere. The road changed to gravel jeep track just outside the village, but was rideable even with 25mm Gatorskins. I climbed steadily up a series of switch-backs and although I was always in the easiest or second easiest gear, the gradient was consistent and I got into a good rhythm. All was well with the world.
The track hit high alpine meadows, dotted with summer huts and pasture and I was particularly taken with one deserted hut with a phenomenal view of the valley. I found myself imagining how it would feel to stay up there for a couple of nights. Me, the bike, a bed, a comfortable seat with a mountain view, a wood burning stove, a water trough and enough food to last for a couple of days. What more could a girl want?
As I continued ever upwards, the mountain was mine. I marked it at the top by having a quick pee! At 2000m I was pretty close to the summit of the ‘dome’ and it started to become clear that my mountain was actually the spur of a long ridge which rose up above the snow-line. At the top of the track there was a rocky section probably unsuitable for a car, and then back to hard-pack jeep track. The first couple of km’s of descent were on really annoying large (3-4 cm) loose pack gravel which had been recently laid down and was not yet hard-packed. Tricky for the bike, although I didn’t dismount. Would not be possible to ride without a bit of Mountain Biking experience (unless you are a natural!). The cobbly track eventually changed to tarmac and I stopped to rest my hands.
The small tarmac road wound down the hill, eventually reaching Valezan on the D86. I was feeling in need of a bit more than a Tesco’s flap jack square and was just thinking of turning for home when I noticed a little restaurant/bar. After an excellent plate of charcuterie and cheese I completed the end of the Versant du Soleil route, through Granier, Aime and home along the river bike path.
The Verdict. I loved this day out, but would probably try to keep high for a bit longer next time I’m out that way. It’s still a worthy ride though.