It’s Thursday and the penultimate activity day, so we are all going to ride down from Galibier (minus Keith due to his ankle sprain yesterday, and Trevor who decides to take a rest). I’m borrowing Trevor’s bike so Jess can borrow mine, and Matt is hiring a bike for the morning. It’s a later start today and we go up to the statue (not quite the top of the Col) for a group photo before we ride down. Tom Snr has ridden up the Col on his road bike and meets us there briefly before he finishes the climb and then cycles back again! We all group up at the main road crossing and from there we split in to two groups. I’ve felt ok with Trevors’ bike, but it’s another different bike to get used to and have had a couple of moments on the loose gravel where the wheels have slipped around a bit, the brakes are a bit sharper than mine! It’s much wetter on the ground than last year so we are all filthy already, and I realise that the go pro on my chest harness will be largely useless (unless I want a long video of the mud splatter on the screen!)
I go with the first group and take the lead for a little while on the rest of the downhill section. It’s feeling good and no as hairy as last year. I’m more confident on a bike in general now. We get to a gate across the track, we are riding through grazing land so there are sometimes some little electric fence gates that keep the cattle in. We take a short break to make sure everyone is happy, and a French cyclist who passes us tells us one of the second group has had a fall. We manage to determine it’s Matt taken a tumble and we decide to wait for the second group just to check all is ok. When Matt arrives he says ‘I’ve capsized!’ and seems ok and in good spirits. We carry on along the flatter section now and Jamie takes the lead for a while. We soon start to have a bit of a rolling lead and positions in the group changes as and when people feel like it. I’m feeling pretty good rolling and jumping over and around rocks, and do a small drop in the woods.
The groups gather again at the village and pretty much cycle together (ish) through to the town where Matt returns his bike. He only had it for a couple of hours and wasn’t too happy with the leat section last year so was happy to just ride from the top of the mountain down to the town. At the start of the leat section we discuss the plan from there, most of the group head down the single track to the cafe at the bottom of the lifts to have lunch there. A couple are taking a lift in the afternoon to ride a downhill track at Serre Chevalier, and others will cycle along the river back to the house. I go with Bill, Ali and Rob, along the leat and we head back to the house for lunch instead.
The leat is brilliant, last year I did ok on it and enjoyed it, but it did make me nervous. On one side of you there is the leat (where the run off of the water in the mountains goes) and on the other you have a long steep drop to the river and paths below. The track we are on is only narrow, so you have to keep rolling with reasonably good balance. I manage to ride the majority of it, with just a couple of places where the path narrows too much, or where there are rocks and roots across it which I don’t have the skill to navigate on a bike yet. It’s such a nice ride to do though, and lovely to feel less nervous about it this year.
We’ve managed to miss the majority of the rain from a small storm that has passed, and cycle up the roads and back to the house in glorious sunshine. Back at the house I have a quick chat with Keith to tell him about the ride, and bikes get washed off, then it’s time for a shower before dinner. I catch up on my blog a little and I can start to feel the effects of the ride. I must try to stretch this evening!
Later on Bill gets his guitar out and he, Jess and Keith play a few songs. Some singing and dancing also ensues as we’ve had a few to drink! With having this much fun, my blog stays a day behind and I forget to stretch too. I knew it would be difficult to make myself do the stretches every day, but at least I’ve done some throughout the holiday and I’ll have to be strict with myself when I get back!