08: 15 am, 15-08-2009
Climb: Cime de la Bonette (2.802m), According to the French it’s the highest paved road in Europe, according to the rest of the world it’s the highest paved road in France.
Jausiers, 1.213m – Cime de la Bonette, 2.802m
[1,589m – 22 km – 6,6%]
Distance & Time: 118 Km – 5:26h
Time going up /down (only climb): 2:14h – 38m
Average speed up /down: 9,85 km/h – 39,47Km/h (22Km & 25Km, respectively)
Max. speed (GPS) and Max. gradient over 1k: 60,4 Km/h –9,6%
Conditions: Very good to climb (no wind no direct sun exposure – just perfect) but awful to descend after Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée (lots of headwind)
Pace: Sustainable to be able to complete 120km
Left the camping site 1 hour later than predicted but still with good temperature for the ride. My backup car left 2 hours after. The idea was to go as far as Nice (140Km) but to guarantee that meeting wouldn’t be a problem we agreed to make the finish line 20Km before. After a 7Km warm up, from the camping site (north of Jausiers) to Jausiers, the climb would start. This climb has no major technical difficulties to talk about, though I’m not saying it isn’t hard. In fact, after the Oetztaler Gletscherstrasse (and its sun exposure), it was the second hardest. It was the most time consuming (2:14h) and the highest climb (1,6Km vertical ascent). It’s just that is all about resistance, with no particular hard crux. Unlike Monte Zoncolan, that has one kilometer of almost 20% average gradient, the maximum average gradient of this climb, over one kilometer, is 10%. Nevertheless, it was far from boring! This climb was probably the most scenery of them all. Not so much because of any particular point of the course, but rather because, as you climb, the landscape unfolds and keeps on changing as the kilometers go by, for the delight of your eyes. This makes you forget about the monotonous steadiness of the climb and makes you just want to keep one going to see what comes next. The other cyclists were very friendly, especially the ones that overtook me (2#), the overtooked ones (2#) also, but with the expected yellow smile. Near the finish, at the Col de Restefond, a photographer took me some photos that you can check below, after which came his business card (to sell them later).
The descent was done going down through the other side of the mountain, direction Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée / Nice! I thought I was going pretty fast but as I checked for approaching cars /motorbikes coming from behind I saw a cyclist looking to overtake me! Brakes on, and…“please do”! Feeling encouraged for my quick recognition of inferiority, the guy almost crashed into a car while making the next turn. Jesus! After that, I said to myself: “it is better that at least one of us lives to tell the story”. After Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée, the ride went on to finish at Saint Martin-du-Var (just before Nice). This was supposed to be a relaxed ride because it was always slightly descending, but this was not the case. The constant valley, through which the road developed, concentrated a headwind that required a constant pedaling in order not to stop (it didn’t look like a descent). My backup car only caught me at the 80th Km, distance where I got my first photo. At the finish line, and under heavy sun exposure, strong wind and empty stocks of food and water… There is only one word to describe my feelings: Exhausted!
Next time I will do this ascent from Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée. This side looks to be a harder mental challenge, because you can almost see the top from the very beginning, and the scenery part doesn’t help (either you look to the asphalt or you look to the same picture over and over again). After I finish my ride a really crazy idea just crossed my mind. How about doing the same ride that I had just completed on the opposite direction (Nice – Jausiers, 140Km and a gradient of 2,8 Km, of which 1,6Km at the end)!! If you do this you will have my eternal respect. Go luck!
Map & Photos
… the ride
… going up (GPS data)
… going down (GPS data)
Photos by a French Photographer:
Photos by Cristiana Matos: