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Another road not to climb....Col de Joux Plane

By  CJ Boom     19:21     

The Col de Joux Plane, famed for being the climb that Lance Armstrong supposedly 'bonked' on during the 2000 Tour de France. It looms behind the ski town of Samoens like a constant shadow, south facing, snow never settles on its green slopes. Linking Samoens with Morzine it is a popular final climb in the Tour. 

You join me at 6km to go, just over half way, I can't be bothered to write down everything that has gone before, I'll save you the ramblings, every slow pedal stroke is etched in my memory but in summary within the first kilometre this monster Tour climb has had me up and out of the saddle riding over a 12% gradient. 

It's the end of May, the baking sun has been reddening my calves for the past thirty minutes. The wooden chalets that line the road provided brief shade but they are gone now, it's just me on Vicious Matt's wheel and a 10% gradient to fight. 
Oh yeh and if you wanted ubiquitous alpine forests, forget it, instead there just endless views of the Valley Vert, 'oh lovely', I hear you say, NO NO, not nice, hot. A stressfully hot south facing slope with no cover.

At 4km in, Initially I tried to strike up a conversation with Matt, having not seen him since the CX season. The grade had flattened to 5%, but it was a trick. Suddenly the road is back to 9% quickly and my sentences became a panting breathless game of yes and no. I gave up we returned to our grind skywards in silence (I never did find out about why he's moving to Hampshire).

So here we are 11% gradient and 6km to go. The rode has swung through 90 degrees and I've waved goodbye to the view. Now my back is to the sun & the elastic has snapped. 
Within a few slow heavy blinks of my eyes Matt was gone, 20 metres ahead, maybe more.
Im on my own, now with crimson calves, sticky sweat soaked eyes, and the sound my deep and rapid breathing. I could feel my pace was beginning to drop. 

2km to go, a leafy bowl is revealed to my left and ahead the road skirts around the rim of the bowl to a restaurant indicating the summit. 
A man passes me, he's wrapped his jacket around his waist and arm warmers around his stem. 
Ahh what any annoying sight, perhaps because I am suffering and this man is on a Boardman twiddling a childish compact gear, completely void of everything that embodies a pro cyclist attempting to flatten a Hors Categorie climb, a disgrace and yet there he goes, the non-cyclist is passing me.

The devil on my shoulder said:
"Are you going to let this geek on a bike beat you, there are a mere 2km left and 250m to ascend, the end is in sight. Don't let this baffoon on a bike get away."

My heart is throbbing in my ears. The cadence is raised. Keep on, now there is a weird burning sensation inside my quads. Matt has come back into view.
1km left, the huts and the restaurant at the summit are almost touching distance, onto Matt's wheel, that guy is still ahead. Keep going, change gear, get faster, the road is now at 8% slightly easier than the previous 30 minute grind. Now Matt is on my wheel, cheering me on as we chase Mr Nodder.
Round the last hairpin and past the sign, we cross the line together but a bike length behind our unstylish rival. Damn.


The trouble with the Joux Plane is there isn't an immediate descent after the summit, you now track around a road passing a murky summit lake, through a bend, the road slopes down but there is more ahead and then suddenly your bashing your chain back into the little ring, before the reward of a descent there is a little matter of a hill to tackle. A really spiteful stingy lump. I wished I'd not sprinted after that man now.

Finally we were onto the descent and now into Morzine we flew. 


My total climb time: 1 hour 4 minutes
Pantani climb time ('97 TdF):  33minutes
Length: 12km
Average 8.5%
Max Grade: 12%
Height: 1691m
Total height gain: 1000m


About CJ Boom


1 comment:

  1. Hi Claire

    I'm a film producer with Gorilla Face Productions - http://www.gorilla-face.com/. We're shooting a film in July of a cyclist's attempt to 'Everest' a tough hill in London. I'm sorry to approach you on here but I felt a tweet was even more public and at the very least the subject is related to this post. Would you be able to provide me with an email address so I can send you more information about this privately as I think it would interest you? You can use the info page on our website to send this through.

    Many thanks for your time and I hope to hear from you soon

    Pablo Gonzalez