Col d'Izoard ↑ all posts

Col d'Izoard

Possibly the best day of cycling so far, absolutely glorious day! I left Briancon early and followed swarms of French, German, and Italian motorbikes up the Col d’Izoard. Like many of these Cols it begins with steady climbing through forests, but it’s especially dry here with all the riverbeds empty, which would be a problem if I hadn’t brought extra water with me. I reach the treeline quite suddenly and am now in a harsh desert like environment, the Casse Deserte. Strange rock pillars jut abruptly from scree slopes, carved into wonderful shapes by the wind and rain over the millenia. The road cuts its way through these slopes, leading to the stone monolith marking the summit of the Col.

The descent to Guillestre is fast and fun, I manage to reach 81 km/h on a straight, a new record. A deep river gorge with the road travelling sometimes hundreds of feet above vertical drops takes me to the edge of the town, and the start of the next climb up to Col du Vars. This is a less dramatic climb, but still lovely views back down to the towns scattered on the valley floor with the glaciated peaks of the Ecrins shining in the distance. A long and beautiful day through the mountains and I’m very pleased to reach Barcelonnette before the sun goes down,