Darin was starting to go through big Col withdrawal and presented the idea of going to do the Col de la Madeleine, a 19 km, 1,522 meter, Hors Category climb averaging 8%; not a walk in the park, but not horrifically hard either. This climb was part of the Tour de France this year, stage 11, a 148 km day that had riders go up the Madeleine and then up the Col de Glandon (which Darin and I did the next day) in 4 hours, 43 minutes, a little faster then us.
It was just over an hour drive to get to La Chambre from Duingt with a stop in Albertville for coffee. The flags were still flying from when the Tour went through and you could see where the pros had gone, it was pretty neat with the little yellow, green, white and polka dot jerseys hanging above the traffic.
I really enjoyed this climb. The town of La Chambre was quaint and looked to thrive on tourism brought in by the Tour and cyclists, and we were by no means the only cyclists riding this day. This whole area is surrounded by mountains, everywhere you look you see peaks, and then there are the ones hiding behind the visible ones. It is a trick to figure out which one is the one we are climbing, even as you get in to the final kilometres. What I liked about the Madeleine is that you go through the forested bottom but can see the quick gains in altitude that you accomplish through the trees, there are a few little towns that you go through and can use the public fountain to fill up water bottles, there is a ski village with 6 km to go that provides scenery to look at and then the last 6 km are clear and feel a bit epic.
I have rarely listened to music while riding over here, but with 3 km to go I plugged in to the soundtrack from Chasing Legends and could picture the pro cyclists and legends who have ridden this climb before me and started to pick up the pace. With the official top in site and a restaurant and gift shop at the top where Darin hung out while he waited for me, I was motivated to finish strong
Next up, Col de Glandon, a real killer!