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Col du Galibier

Five kilometres in, climbing the northside, you could be forgiven for thinking the Galibier isn’t so bad. Well into the climb, and apart from the initial ramp out of Valloire, nothing has really tested you. All that training must have been more effective than you thought. You might even consider a coffee or an ice cream at the lovely little cafe by the side of the road.
That is all about to change.
Crossing the bridge over the stream, the Galibier changes its personality in just a few pedal strokes. You will need to be super fit and have brought your A-game. Otherwise, by the time you are halfway up that first serious 11% ramp, all the training will have melted away like ice cream in the midday sun. What’s left is determination, grit, stubbornness, and pride.

Any two will get you to the top, or at least the fork in the road leading to the tunnel. After that, it’s just pride. There’s no shade or shelter on the Galibier, barely a tree in sight, nowhere to hide or recover, no let-up to the relentless gradient. But if you insist on visiting the home of the cycling gods, you can’t expect it to be easy, can you?

As John F. Kennedy famously said, “We don’t do it because it’s easy. We do it because it’s hard”.