Cloete’s Col Collection

We don’t always appreciate the privilege of being fit & healthy. Life is fragile, and we need to make the most of every moment - counting our blessings along the way.  This was one of those “bucket-list” dream holidays and we were fortunate and blessed to see and experience so many beautiful places during this time. Meeting up with good friends and being reminded that the life is about so much more than the daily busy-ness we all know so well.

Our adventure started with a trip to PE for 70.3 World’s. It was great to witness the best in the world and experience a level of racing not seen in SA before.  To see The Bird, Frodo and Javier in action….amazing !

We then continued to the south of France where we spent the next 2 and a half weeks.  Rural roads in France are definitely better accessed by bike than car and we made the most of this by cycling our way up 6 col’s and doing the first 70.3 in Nice - riding a combined ascent of more than 5500m.

Col de Turini

This is a winding road with 16 switchbacks from Sospel to Turini passing through Moulinet. This road is used in the Monaco rally annually and climbs to 1607.

As this was the first col it was a scary descent with tight switchbacks but beautiful scenery all along.  It was a good intro to riding climbs and descents that we’re not used to. 

Col de Vence

This col was part of the Nice 70.3 bike course and what a beast it turned out to be ….. Nice is very hot and humid in September.

The swim is beautiful with clear, calm, warm water in the Mediterranean. It was a close call to be a non-wetsuit swim at 24.3 degrees. 

The bike starts with 1000m ascent in 1st 37 km followed by fast technical descents. Aggressive descending being par for the course.  

The warm run was really tough and made for digging deep to the end. The Promenade des Anglais is a spectacular run venue for a race with “Allez” & “Bravo” ringing out from the spectators.

A tough race but wonderful experience.  70.3 World’s 2019 will be an interesting race when the best competes on this course. 

Alpe d’Huez

Straight from the bucket list … There are 21 bends, but you can’t see that from the bottom of the climb. It is a tough first few km’s with a gradient of more than 10%. 

After the first few km’s the incline eases a bit but it’s still a climb all the way to the official Tour de France finish. Everyone asks if it is as hard as they say - it is a hard long climb, but it’s a legendary climb and when I saw writing on the road with motivation “live your potential”, “shut up legs”, names like BARDET, FROOME, SAGAN etc.  and I realized this was not a dream and I was actually on this hard climb and no matter what and how tired my legs feel, I will get to the top! New respect for the professionals who ride this at the end of a long stage and are racing it

Col du Lautaret and Galibier

The Col du Lautaret is on the way to Col du Galibier.  It has spectacular views,  mountains with glaciers and a few dark tunnels…

At some stages of riding the Galibier it was just you, your bike, the mountains and your thoughts.  Cow bells in the distance and down below you an eagle soaring, what magical moments.

The Galibier is frequently the highest point in the Tour and the 9th highest paved road in Europe.  Quite scary at some places as there is no barrier on this narrow road and you can see far and down, down, down… The last km of avg. 12.8% gradient hurts before reaching the top where amazing panoramic views of Glacier Meije greets you.

Memories that will last a lifetime and a rekindled perspective on living every day to the full.

Now to fill that bucket list again…

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