28 and Counting…

No, that is not the number of weeks Stoker and I have been under house arrest. That would be 8, not 28.

Cyclist is a UK based website https://www.cyclist.co.uk/. They have compiled a list of the Top 100 cycling climbs in the world. Since we are stuck at home instead travelling in France, enjoying cycling and a demi rosé with savory crepes for lunch, we have plenty of time to look at frivolous on-line lists.

But this list is not so frivolous for me. I started to wonder how many of the 100 climbs I had ridden up. I was kind of surprised that I actually have ascended 28 of them. And when you consider that only 4 of them are in the US, that is pretty amazing.

Most of the ones I’ve done are quite famous and well known to cyclists as part of the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France. Mortirolo, Gavia and Passo Stelvio (rated #1, deservedly IMHO) in Italy. Alpe d’Huez, Col du Galibier, and the Col de la Madeleine in the French Alps. The Col du Tourmalet, Aubisque and Peyresourde in the Pyrenees.

And of course the ‘Giant of Provence’ that little hill right next to our Malaucene rental house, Mont Ventoux (#2). I’ve been up that one 6 times, in all kinds of weather fair and foul.

So if we ever are able to travel before my legs get too old for this kind of thing, I started thinking about which climbs I could conceivably add. South America and Asia are not on my cycling radar, at least not in this lifetime. I suppose I could consider Switzerland and Austria, where there are several I could do. Even though I’ve been to the Pyrenees and done many famous climbs there, the list contains others less famous, but no less beautiful or difficult, that I missed. I really loved riding in the Pyrenees and would be very happy to return.

There are also climbs in France that I’ve been close to but never done. The Col d’Eze and Col de la Madone near Nice. And then there’s Belgium…

“Mountains in Belgium?” you ask? Yes and no. The Ardennes are called mountains but compared to the Alps or Pyrenees or Dolomites they look like little foothills.

But these foothills have some of the steepest and narrowest COBBLED climbs anywhere. And these climbs are all famous because they form part of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, also known as De Ronde. The ‘Tour of Belgium’ is a one day road cycling race held every spring, unless world wars or virus panicdemics intervene, as happened this year.

De Ronde is Belgium’s Super Bowl Sunday. 750,000 spectators watch the race in person, most of them on the Bergs or Cotes or Murs which are the short steep cobbled climbs that break up the race and determine the winner.

5 of these climbs made the list’s Top 100. None of them is very long, and they are all close enough to each other that you could conceivably do them in a single day. But they are so steep and narrow and the cobbles so uneven that you might have to walk to the top. This even happens to the pros occasionally, when someone falls or stalls and the road gets blocked. Once you put a foot on the ground there is no chance you can get pedaling again.

My friends at 44|5 have had a tough year, obviously. They had to cancel all their tours through June. So far that is…they have July and August and September trips that they ‘hope’ will happen. Many of the people on the cancelled tours accepted full credit for a trip in 2021 instead of asking for a refund, so 44|5 will be back next year.

And they are thinking about a trip in Belgium, for the beer and the frittes and the Murs and the cobbles. If they make it happen I intend to go. And add 5 more of the Top 100 to my tally. They count even if I have to walk to the top.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Categories

  • Archives