Climbing the Col d'Izoard (2360m) from Briancon

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Wednesday 9 September 2015

Climbing the Col d'Izoard (2360m) from Briancon

Less than 24 hours after our ascent of the mightily steep Col du Granon and just a couple of weeks after our first visit to the Col d'Izoard from within the Queyras Regional Park, this morning we were heading back towards the Col d'Izoard but this time tackling the northern approach from Briancon. The northern approach is a little longer at 19km and so has a marginally shallower 'average' gradient, only 5.8% over the 1105m of total climbing. However, as with so many cols in this area we have ridden, what this means is a longer 'warm up' section of sub 6% gradients before the final 8%+ section to reach the top. However, even though we'd to this col before the climb itself was so different it was well worth the effort.

Climbing out of busy Briancon the opening portion of the climb was fairly straightforward with some long flatter sections and even the occasional downhill portion (which is always worrying when you're thinking how far there is still to go up!). Esther was back on Thomas the Tank engine, our kindly loaned heavy hybrid, while I was on one of our road bikes taking it easy with a sore knee from my run up Col du Granon.

The first 10km of cycling through open, green valley with impressive cliffs high above was beautiful and then with 9km to the gradient turned up a notch. Heading through wooded hillside now and with a few switchbacks thrown in the feel of the climb was completely different to the southern approach we'd done a couple of weeks earlier. The final 5km at 8% was especially hard work!

But as we wound upwards the top was soon in sight and with 1km to go the trees cleared completely revealing amazing views of the valley we'd ascended and to the high mountains beyond ringed by clouds.

Arriving at the col it felt good to be back again so soon and we enjoyed posing for photos one more time and relaxing in the sun a while and chatting to some fellow Brits who had also just arrived. The descent that followed was decidely nippy but as we rolled back down the steep road (my speedo clocked 77kph at one point) we were once again feeling that same elation we find outdoors in the high mountains. Plus, with our 4th big cycling day in a row, we were feeling very happy with our active week in Briancon so far.

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