Beardy & Beardy
Instead of shooting stage 16, we decided to go straight to Briançon on the rest day and meet up with my brother, Beardy Junior.
I had been looking forward to a couple of days of riding in the Alps before getting back to work shooting stages 17 and 18. A late arrival and delayed bike assembly, however, didn't leave much time for a ride. Our host had already made dinner reservations at the hottest local restaurant and we didn’t want to miss out.
The plan had been to ride up col de Laurent, then continue onto Col de Galibier. But with time running short, we decide a brief shakedown of the bikes, and a couple of photos in the afternoon light, was about the best we could do. So we drove the Skoda, loaded up with our bikes, to the start of Galibier.
Beardy Junior had left his helmet behind so we made a brief stop on the way to purchase a fresh lid. The bike shop, however, was charging mountain prices - so he had to go sans helmet until we could try another store in the morning.
The afternoon light was superb, so we snapped a couple of shots, before descending back to the car by 8pm.
After dinner, we did some route planning over a couple of glasses of Vana Tallinn (Estonia's finest liquor) and decided to ride the Col d'Izoard.
Beardy Junior and I had already ridden the Briançon side 4 years earlier. This time, however, we were going to do the full loop (95km) and tackle the Guillestre side. This was also the same side that the race would be going over in 3 days time, providing me a great chance to find the best locations to shoot from.
The first half of the ride to Guillestre was, largely, downhill. However, we had a wicked headwind to contend with and I was happy to pull up at a boulangerie, for a flan and carbonated beverage, before the road started to climb upwards.
The wind had now turned in our favor and we made short work of the lower slopes, before the gradient jacked up to 9%. After two weeks off the bike my legs didn't feel as fresh as I'd hoped.
The climb was more spectacular than the Briançon side and, as we reached the summit, I suggested we push on. This proved a good idea as we caught the last 30km of stage 16 when we arrived back at our accommodation.