Dam Busting Stage 2 – Day Four
Another Epic day in the saddle up to Barrage du Mauvoisin – another hydro-electric dam, however, today the road was either climbing or descending (so no flat miles to pad out the distance) once we left town. In addition to the main climb of the day (4,850 feet of climbing in 25 miles), I’d also identified a couple of bonus climbs in case our legs felt strong….
The first 12 miles followed Sunday’s route to Le Chable, at which point we turned off the main roads & headed towards the snow covered mountains way off in the distance. The views continued to get ever more impressive as we climbed higher & deeper into the mountains – physically as well as metaphorically, as we passed through a couple of tunnels! For the first time this trip we got to see a marmot, rather than just hear them squeaking as we approached.
We made a quick stop for Tarte Tartin with ice cream & a cappuccino in the middle of nowhere, before the final push.
As we rounded the very next corner after our stop we saw our target for the day – the Barrage du Mauvoisin, as it towered 250 metres above us! It’s the 11th tallest dam in the world, took 6 years to build & spans 520 metres from side to side.
After taking in the majesty of the dam, lake & surrounding area (Mont Blanc was visible in the distance), we descended back towards Lourtier, taking in a cliff road detour on the way to view the valley below.
We still felt good, so took the decision to climb a back road (including a 3km gravel section along the summit balcony) towards Verbier. The climb was always ‘comfortable’ & as we gained height the views widened until we again got to see paragliders as they soared on the thermals above us.
We took the same descent as on Sunday until Le Chable, where we stopped for lunch. Our legs still weren’t totally cooked (although well on their way!), so we threw in yet another bonus climb – the Col des Planches. This was on a deserted road that took us high above the main road we cycled this morning, with stunning views towards Col de Grand Saint Bernard in one direction & Mont Blanc in the other. The climb ascended 2,100 feet in 5 miles, so averaged about 8%, but with a couple of short stretches up over 13%.
As we started the descent towards Martigny this was all forgotten, as incredible views up & down the Rhone valley showed themselves.
We popped into town to celebrate another awesome day in the saddle & to take in some of the Tour de France reminders & to top up the calories ahead of tomorrow’s adventure!