Haute Route Blog: Day 6
by Adam Tranter
The second edition of the Haute Route is underway. 780km and 19 mountains; a monumental challenge for every one of the 600 riders, it’s also a fairly substantial challenge for the 150-strong support crew. In that crew is Adam Tranter, who is taking on the 780km himself, on the back of a motorbike, which we’re fairly sure is cheating.
It sounds stupid, but when you are at the Haute Route it’s quite hard to recall just what mountains you’ve been up in a week. There are so many of them, that when you get towards the end, you can’t quite remember which ones came where. In fact, I wasn’t even sure what day it was yesterday; days become stages when you’re on the Haute Route.
But an experience and climb that’ll stick in my head forever is that of the Col de la Bonette, and its through road, the Cime de la Bonette. At 2802m high, it’s the highest through road in the whole of Europe. And it looks a bit like the moon.
One of the few places you can step out your car and fall into oblivion
There are practically no signs of life up there. Few signs, few people (until 600 Haute Route riders ascended it) and judging by how I felt up there, fewer molecules of oxygen than I would have liked. The landscape is unique, and the views spectacular. As you descend from the top, you pass a ghost village; its houses derelict, and their windows smashed. It’s an apt metaphor for how some of the riders will be feeling after Day 6; some are still struggling to put proper sentences together after such a challenge.
A derelict village on the descent
“I really tortured myself up there,” a rider said to me at the finish, talking of the Bonette. He wasn’t alone. Riders know that if they’ve made it this far, they can get to Nice. Some riders are using any gas left in the tank to ruin themselves by riding as hard as they can, or trying to get some time over their rival teams and friends. It’s an odd mentality, but if you’re going to go home tired you might as well go home really, really tired and a bit of a wreck too. The Haute Route encourages people to give it their all, regardless of ability.
This climb really showcases how special the Haute Route is. For people outside of Europe, the Haute Route is so different in terms of terrain and culture. For people inside of France and inside of Europe, the race format and frequency of Cols adds a new dimension to anything that’s been achieved before.
The world’s highest cyclosportive feed station?
Today I learned a few things about myself. 1) My feet twitch if I sit in a car for too long and follow cyclists, mountains make me want to ride a bike whether I’d get up them or not. 2) I couldn’t live on or near the Col de la Bonette as I was without phone signal for over an hour while near the 20km radius of the Col, and it sent me crazy.
Tomorrow, my second time in Nice on the Haute Route, I’ll probably remember some things about myself. These are likely to be: 1) I like Nice but avoid the beach because I have a phobia of irremovable sand from my toes. 2) I will feel overwhelmingly proud of anybody who makes it to Nice with their bikes. It is a truly brilliant achievement and experience.
An achievement worth celebrating
Tomorrow is going to be a great day for everybody involved here. It’s a Déjà vu I’m more than willing to have.
Haute Route 2012
- 19/08/2012 - Geneva, Switzerland to Nice, France
- Haute Route Alps 2013 - 18/08/2013 - Geneva, Switzerland to Nice, France
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