Col de l’Iseran appeared in stage 9 of the 2007 Tour. Formerly, the highest road in Europe, 2007 is the 70th anniversary of the opening of the road over this legendary mountain pass. The gift shop t-shirts still claim it to be the highest. Still, at 2,770 metres (9000 feet) it is high.
Purists start over 40 kilometres away in Bourg St Maurice, but we (like the Tour) started in Val d’Isere – to avoid the traffic and several long tunnels below town. This is truly an amazing climb that seems to go right over the mountains. It was cold down below so we both had 2 jackets – I even brought long pants (it had rained and even slightly hailed at our hotel the night before – well below this altitude).
The secret of this climb is to remember to enjoy the views while battling the thin oxygen. I felt strong today – as good as I have felt for ages and really enjoyed the climb. Perhaps I am fitter, perhaps it was sleeping at altitude for two nights. OK it was likely the VERY nice tail wind that provided this illusion of strength. I then descended (see elevation graph below) to find Doreen and played photographer as she climbed the last few kms.
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