Road closed due to escaped lunatics.

The weekend rolls around again and as is usual in the Oisans in summer nobody can go anywhere because the roads are infested with drug-addled obsessives on overpriced pushbikes. Really, how am I supposed to get out to the garden centre for geraniums if the roads are going to be closed from midday onwards? You really can’t expect me to get out of bed early during the interseason.

Critérium de Dauphine, Bourg d'OisansThis weekend’s pedal-fest is the Critérium du Dauphine which is run over eight stages, taking in a whole lot of very steep hills, and is a key part of the run-up to the Tour de France. (Don’t get me started on the Tour de France. It’s not coming through here this year, much to my relief.) For some reason, this involves closing the roads on two separate days, since they cycle from Briançon to Grenoble – past Alpe d’Huez – on the Friday, and then come back on Saturday afternoon to ride up to Alpe d’Huez. You’d think they could just nip up there on the way past. After all, a bunch of Dutch amateurs did it six times in a day just the other week, how hard can it be?

Marmot = a big hamster. La Marmotte = a bike race.

Still, at least they do close the roads for it. When La Marmotte comes through in July they don’t bother, and we all have to play dodgems with 7000 lunatics who are apparently convinced that all-body lycra and a polystyrene hat will somehow protect them if they come off that wafer-thin machine and hit the tarmac at 70kph. It doesn’t seem to occur to them to wonder why the bikers all wear full face helmets and kevlar-reinforced jackets.

None of this would matter too much if they kept to their own bit of the road, but they all insist on taking the racing line through the bends, which means you can be pootling up the hill at a perfectly law-abiding speed when all of a sudden some crazed cyclist pops up immediately in front of you, causing an instant heart attack and near miss with the ditch. I’d be tempted just to slam on the anchors and hope for the best, but having hit a wild boar one winter season I can imagine what sort of damage 80kg of flying Dutchman would do to both me and my car.

In theory I should miss most of the carnage, since I will inevitably be working on a Saturday in July and by the time I get home the survivors should all be off the road and safely in the restaurants scoffing piles of carbohydrate, though no doubt I’ll have to get up at crack of dawn to escape from the house before they start the race. I know from experience that it takes at least half an hour for 7000 cyclists plus hangers-on to go past the exit to the car park.

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About misplacedperson

Camping and snowboarding for a living. It may not be a career, but it's certainly a life.
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8 Responses to Road closed due to escaped lunatics.

  1. Mike Boozer says:

    good post, I like the site

    Mike Boozer, http://somebodyhadtosayit.com

  2. Hi, I’ve just discovered your site and I absolutely loved this post! I spent a couple of summers in Villard de Lans and had the tour de France go through so your descriptions brought back some good memories and are oh so true! Thanks for the chuckle!

    • I keep meaning to ski Villard de Lans and not getting round to it. I WILL do it this year!

      • Make sure you good when snow’s good and not too late into the season!

        Villard is a strange place. I used to spend two months there every summer and it’s okay. In the winter however the people there are a strange breed, lots of Bronzees style outfits and the shop/restaurant owners don’t know whether they’re open or not – it depends on how they feel. If you’re unlucky enough to go towards the end of season you’ll struggle to find anywhere to eat other than Jack Burger after 8pm…

        Villard is the same distance from Lyon as Chamrousse and I prefer the ski there although you have to watch out for the stones!

  3. Drawing pins scattered discreetly across the road? Subtle… You could hide with your camera and get some ace shots of the carnage!

  4. Sounds like my kind of place, will definitely go this winter! If you ski round here I also recommend Alpe du Grand Serre for a day – quiet, loads of off piste when the conditions are right, fantastic views of the Vercors.

  5. Pingback: A Taste of Garlic » It’s All Downhill From Here

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