This week, Wayne takes us through his Luz Ardiden ride – a much more palatable ride than last week’s was!
Luz Ardiden is a cracker of a ride; nice villages, cool tree lined-lower sections and good quality pavement. The gradient is solid and testing with plenty of switchbacks, great views, no cars (not a single one), and holds a place in Tour history (including where Armstrong was brought down by the lady with the shopping bag). Not sure if there are any more ingredients to a great ride, but Luz Ardiden has all these in spades.
The climb starts in earnest in the village of Saint Saveur, an easy 17km from where we were staying in Saint Savin. The first 2km are a reasonably gentle introduction of 5-6% up through some small villages. After this, the villages disappear and the road enters the forest. It starts to get a bit tough at around 8% and up to 9.5%. About halfway up the road starts to form into switchbacks and then with around 5km to go it rises above the tree line and the views across the valleys and up the surrounding peaks are a brilliant distraction from the discomfort that has set in. For the last 5km it’s possible to see the finish which serves as welcome encouragement. The last 2km is a bit of a celebration, the grade slips to around 6.5-7.5%. With the finish line in sight we saw a marmot waddle his fat ass across the road and into a borough in the slope.
At the top is a ski village, which in summer is as deserted as a Scooby Doo Haunted town (explains why there wasn’t a single car on the ascent). All the rewards are there though. It’s a big enough climb to feel like an achievement, the views back down over the switchback road are spectacular, and the quality road surface ensures a fun and technical decent. All up, a great ride.
Enjoyment Score: 9.5/10. Difficulty 7.5