Col de Madeleine in thongs By Jason Ellis

Robbo, DK and myself were planning our next day in a Grenoble bar. The aim was to see our first stage of the Tour de France from the summit of the Col de Madeleine. We didn't get the planning to drinking ratio right that night.

Next morning the cops stopped our hire car at the foot of the Col. No cars past this point. Armed with a little food and water and our trusty climbing thongs, we set out for the summit, passing a 17km marker. The scorching heat and 10 degree gradient were punishing. We made it to a cafe, 10km from the summit, totally exhausted. After lunch, we set off at a good pace. We passed a ski village with 5km to go, where the smart people had driven up and stayed overnight. Not us. We pressed on.

Another cop stopped us 2km from the top. The road was now closed, as the riders were approaching, and we could not go any further. Well stuff him. We came to see this from the summit. We locked in the hubs on our off-road thongs, and pressed on through the paddocks, a direct line to the summit. The gradient was nearing 20 degrees and the ground was sodden. It was hard going. Almost at the top DK and I looked back to see a floundering Robbo. We contemplated having to leave his body on the mountain. Totally exhausted we reached the summit. Robbo arrived a few minutes later. The thin air was burning the lungs, but we settled in time to see the leaders, then the peleton pass the summit of the Col de Madeleine. Victory was ours. Then, the trek back down…

in Col de Madeleine, France


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