yesterday i climbed the Izoard.
I went to Guillestre by car (about 3h drive from Asti, Piedmont) and I stopped just outside the town. the Gorges road was blocked by works, so cars and cyclists, many, had to tackle a 4 kms road on the side of the mountain (2 kms up, 2 kms downhill) not a good beginning.
anyway, the normal road began again at la Maison du Roy, a big false flat uphill, and i had luck with a nice back wind.
at 10.15am the air was still fresh. i saved my legs on the false flat, not pushing much. after a few kms, i guess 7, and 2 hairpins I turned left. the other road heads to the Col d'Agnel, french side.
there was a bunch of cyclists from a club from Castres scattered all over the mountain, they were 15-20 i guess.
now it began to be steeper, even if some stretches give some rest.
the tough part was still to come. the road goes through Arvieux. and after brunissard there is this long straight and steep part before the hairpins. i used a 34x21 until arvieux, then 34x23 after brunissard. the last part in the wood is steep too, but the haipirns give you some breath. every km you have a panel with the altitude and the percentage.
there is a 500m downhill before the Coppi and Bobet monument, and the "casse deserte". after the downhill i put the 34x25 (i saved it for the last part)
a few very nice, and steep hairpins, with not much wind, and i reached the sommet.
i had an espresso and a chocolate snack at the little bar at the top and put my gilet and began the downhill, on the same side i climbed.
it was sunny but cold, i had no arm warmers, and that decathlon yellow gilet without sleeves stops the air
but does not keep you warm
. as soon as i got in the wood the temperature raised a bit and the trees blocked the wind.
the wind over brunissard was a head wind, as it remained until guillestre. i met a schweizer-deutsch guy in the descent, he had a flat, but was with a group of friends, they had a van and 2 motorbikes following them. so we did all the false flat to la Maison du Roy taking turns. they went to the col the Vars, i went to the car to eat and drink. it was 12.45.
what i learned:
you must eat, more than you are used to for the normal mixed 2-3 hours on the home hills.
the air is very different, you can feel it as soon as you stop the car walk around and begin to prepare, and as you get higher you feel it more and more.
always wear an undershirt, if you are warm open the jersey.
dont kill yourself down the valley on the national roads, you'll pay it on the climbs, luckily i didn't ride on the "flat" national road before the Izoard, but in the afternoon.. i did
sometimes you are so concentrated on the pedalling and not loosing the momentum, you just watch the road and your front wheel and you dont enjoy the panorama and the view, but i did it in the downhill, breaking a little more and looking around.
by the way, after having slowly eaten 1 sandwich, 2 mini croissants, half chocolate snack, 1 mini jam cakes i went with the car to Savines le Lac and parked (there is this nice big reservoir lake, with the famous bridge, the reservoir has been formed blocking the Durance river)
I wanted to reach Gap and climb the Col de Manse (the road the Tour peloton will climb in July) and the downhill is where Armstrong cut through the field a few years back.
I got the worst headwind i ever experienced to reach Chorges and la Batie Neuve, on the N94 along the lake.
But the wind was too strong, so I decided to leave the N94 from La Batie Neuve and climb to La Rochette from another side.
The road climbed with the mountain on my right side. At every right corner the wind blew on my face. A shorts but nasty climb and a few hard flat kms before it.
Just before La Rochette i reached the carrefour and went down to Pont Sarrazin.
The road surface is smooth if you touch it (there are some smooth tar parts, that melt in the summer for the heat) but it is not flat-steamrolled. it is a continuous little bump, and it is not easy to brake well. at the Giro d'Italia, this road would be resurfaced.
After the turn were Beloki fell, I reached the N94 again to go back. The wind was at the back, so i enjoyed the trip back to the car, even with sore legs.
next trip maybe the Col d'Agnel, Italian side, nearer to home and without expensive autoroute