Day 3 at Bike Village was to be a big day. The day before a rest day, we had a big climb planned. To ride up to the top of “L’Arpette” at 2385m in La Plagne ski resort. Thankfully we started at about 1300m so skipped the first 500m of climbing, but still there were 1000m to conquer.
We worked our way up slowly, under the lowest of the chairlifts (Bauches for anybody who knows La Plagne, where in 2010 three friends and I embarked on a 1km blue run which was almost entirely flat!), before we moved from tarmac to loose gravelly fire-road.
This ride was called ‘frozen heifer’ by our guides as one was apparently found there once, and we did reach snow patches (but no dead cows) before we reached the top. Eventually after 2hrs and 40mins of slow and steady climbing and with burning thigh muscles for the first time really this week we reached the rope drag lift that links the top of the ski lifts to allow skiers to travel across the top of the ridge between Les Arc and La Plagne. One final push and we were at the top for double lunch.
The descent off the top involved crossing a couple of scary snow fields, dyed red with patches of windblown Saharan sand, followed by a terrifyingly exposed traverse and a couple of very exposed and very tight switchbacks before a series of tricky switchbacks becoming gradually more and more ride-able as we got further down and into the forest. I found the top hard as my thighs were still loaded with lactic acid from the climb throwing my balance off but once we started switchbacking my riding came back and I enjoyed a clean-sweep of the left hand turns and reasonable success on the right handers. We hit the valley bottom (800m) 2km down the road from Landry and with tired legs pedaled back to what had become refered to as ‘home’.
Distance: 27.6km. Time: 5 1/2 hours. Ascent: 1020m, Descent: 1776m.