I woke with stiff legs. To be expected but I was planning the back side of the Joux Plane today. I looked at the circuit which would take me over the top, down to Samoens, up the valley to Taninges and I found a B road upto Les Gets as far as the junction for the L’Encranaz I did yesterday and then back on the main road. Another 55km. I’d convinced myself to just pootle up the climbs in 1st gear and spin if necessary and all will be fine, speed doesn’t matter, the tan does. But I couldn’t help myself, I looked at the route with the Col de la Ramaz aswell what the Tour did and it came out at nearly 80km. Too much on these legs. Stick to the plan. I’ve been emailing my routes to my girlfriend as I’m here on my own, just for security in case I did go AWOL. This was no exception. 55km, Joux Plane and back up the valley home. Done
Breakfast sorted I did some shopping for lunch, got back, changed and cracked on. Downhill start (no choice here) to Morzine and then onto the Joux Plane. I’ve only ever descended this side and to be honest other than the steep technical top, I couldn’t remember much. No KM markers either, obviously not ridden this way enough to warrant them. Its a funny climb, steep, very steep, easier, hairpin, crap road, carpet. The heat! It was hot so shades into the helmet, strap undone and bed in for a grind for the next hour or so. A few cars passed me and I soon caught a father and son. The lad could only have been about 9 or 10 years old. Allez Allez Allez! I left them and plodded on, my legs begun to loosen up and the fatigue seemed to ease as I got nearer the top. Another ski lift offered an easier gradient before the final few km to teh top where I saw a rider, a carrot ahead. The last KM and you ride over brand new road where they rebuilt it prior to the Tour because of a landslide then you ride the worst surface imaginable and thats doing 6mph uphill. Pretty dangerous and bumpy downhill (mental note for Sunday when I do the biggy). I crested the first summit, the Col du Ranfolly and then you drop down a few hundred metres before the drag to the top of the Joux Plane itself where the road horshoe’s round and down past a lake. Immense views from here. I stopped for a summit selfie and a Frenchie asked if I wanted my pic took. Merci beacoup monsier! It was only later I realised his finger was part way across the picture! Merde!
The start of the descent was shaded and very cold. It then got steep once I hit the hairpins. I stopped for a pic of Mont Blanc which is framed on one of the hairpins by trees but it was in the clouds but still a great pic anyway. I carried on down and there were plenty of cyclists coming up. This IS the local climb to do obviously. I hit the bottom and knew that way up is a serious climb compared to all the others around here.
After a lap of a car park and the one way system, I found my way out of Samoens and I was into a headwind. FFS you may say but this one, despite been hard was delightfully refreshing. I don’t know it was that but legs felt good, particularly good actually and I cracked on thinking about the route. In the distance I could see the reflection off cars in the sun as they rounded a hairpin on the road to Les Gets. Do I do the Ramaz? I’m going off-grid, I need to make sure I have everything I need. Food, check, Drink, check. Fuck it! Straight on at Taninges and it was another few KM to Mieussy. A nice steady road, bit of traffic but it is the man valley road and then I was there.
Take a right and onto a great gradient, down the gears in 2nd or 3rd and I just twiddled away for the first few km thinking I was feeling great. Loads of support for Romain Bardet written on the roads but oddly seems a lot is covered over too by bitumen! I looked up as I cycled across a lush green pasture and saw the Sommand tunnel……and the road before it. Shit, that is high and looks very steep. The Ramaz benefits from km markers and as I counted them down I began to wilt in the heat and begun to undo. I stopped in the shade a couple of times and took to pouring my water bottle over me. I even devoured my ’emergency gel’ but I still had 5km to go. I was beginning to think I was not going to get up it or I needed to take a long break to recover. I was fryed. The road before the tunnel is brutal and the tunnel itself is really odd. As I entered the shade of it, ahhhhh but then this really loud noise was coming towards me around the blind bend. It sounded like a jet taking off and I panicked for a second thinking wtf is that! I stopped and then a car came round the corner. For some reason the audio in the tunnel made simple cars sound like passenger airliners. Mad! I grovelled to Sommand which is a plateau near the top which is a skiing area and has a couple of bars and hotels. I considered a stop and food here but Mr Belligerent here decided 2 mins of shade and a swig or warm water was enough and I carried on. The last 3km being a nice steady 5% or so around the edge of the plateau I got to the summit. Knackered.
The descent was on good roads and as was later confirmed by John Hunt, a brutal climb that way. I hit the junction to Les Gets, signposted 5km. I set off ready to mentally countdown the km’s (no km markers) and then I got the tinges of cramp on the inside of my right hamstring. Damage limitation now, I dropped a gear and spun nicely and cramp free back to the town centre and the Hotel.
I dumped the bike and got my room key. At the door it wouldn’t open. Looked at the room number and the key and for a split second I could see they were different but couldn’t work out which was wrong, such was my state. Wrong key! Back down (in the lift), got the right key and got in and showered. I lay on the bed for the next couple of hours trying not to stretch too much for fear of cramp. After a litre of water and some food I eventually got up and cooked my dinner and went for a gentle stroll round town before a beer and bed. Day off tomorrow so who cares!