Tour de France 2014 – Stage 8

Les Petits

(Well, the Vars was not that petit as it turned out)

Today, I decided to tackle two of ‘les Petits’ on the list of cols for the brevet in the morning. These were the Saint-Jean and the Pontis the furthest away from our apartment.

So, as I was advised to avoid riding to Le Lauzet on ‘zee baik’, Paula delivered me there by car.

But actually, while seeing it from the car, it didn’t look as bad I was led to believe.

Certainly no worse then any main road in Belgium or Germany and by the look of it, traffic – i.e. car drivers – are mostly attentive when it comes to passing a cyclist.

I decided I could easily cycle this road when needed and I did so the following days…

I first did my “warm up” on the Saint-Jean – just some 400+ meters elevation gain over a distance of around 12 kilometers.

After that, the more serious Pontis awaited – this is only some 5 kilometers long, but with an elevation gain of 500 meters, it has some pretty steep sections…

It offered a few nice ‘see through’ views half way, but the ‘summit’ was not clearly marked and I had to look twice to find the ticket punching machine.

Descending the Pontis was actually more hazardous than climbing it…

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 8: Pontis

We went back to the apartment for our lunch break and in the afternoon I set out for the Col de Vars.

That may not look like much of a challenge: albeit a respectable 14 kilometers long from les Gleizolles, it only has only 800 meters of elevation gain (5.7%).

However, more than half of those (450) are in the final 5 kilometers, meaning the average is 9% for that stretch…

I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get up the short but steep Montée de Sainte-Anne after the hard final of the Vars, but I was passing it on the way home anyway, so I was going to try.

The Montée is also a ‘petit’ at just 6.5 kilometers, but with an elevation gain of 540 meters, it’s about as easy as the final of the Vars and not a lot easier than the Pontis.

The kilometer at >10% average was not much fun, but I made it.

Anyway, with four more out of the way today, I only had two left to complete the challenge…

Trip: 97 kilometers / 3,095 meters elevation gain (Garmin Part 1 and Part 2).

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