Berton Ride - Day 5
Day 5: On Top of our Game on Top of the World
Today was a tremendous day. A spectacular 18-mile climb up the highest paved road in Europe, the Col de la Bonette, followed by 25 miles downhill, then a difficult 8-mile climb to end the day. We rode 63 miles, climbed over 9,000 feet, and we are still here to talk about. Whew! We started out early in Barcelonnette and rode five miles northwest through the valley to Jaussiers - part of it downhill - to the start of the Bonette climb. Who rides downhill to start a long uphill climb? We do!
The weather was nice as we started out with an expected 41 degrees when we hit the peak. We made our way along the beautiful winding road, passing some riders, others passing us. To ease the difficult climb, we had happily arranged for a "Sherpa" service to shuttle our bags to a restaurant on the downhill side of the mountain. What a great move! On the way up a man parked on the side of the road cheered us on, yelling "Courage!"
We reached the summit (9,200 feet) in fine form and once again there were smiles and high fives all around. You can see it in the attached pictures.
We started our descent and stopped for a long, well-earned lunch that was delicious. The sun was bright and it warmed us up quickly. As great as lunch was, it didn't do much to keep us from remembering the long downhill run ahead of us, nor the steep uphill slog to end the day. It's funny how lodging seems so close and convenient in the mountains until you have to access by bicycle.
Near the bottom of the downhill run, it was very hot and already nearly 5 pm. We decided to press forward and start the final uphill climb to a small village called Rimplas. We were one and all concerned but determined as we headed up and up. Fortunately there was plenty of shade on the 8-mile climb along with a wonderful tailwind in many places. We arrived at about 6:15 - much later than any other day. We are all whipped and ready for a good night's sleep!