Highest paved road in France – 24 June

On this day

In 1989 on 24 June, Wellington played France, and edged them 24-23 in a thriller at Athletic Park – which I was actually at!

Stephen Berg, Director, New Zealand Rugby Museum.

1989 France vs Wellington Program


 Fifth ride – Higher than Mt Ruapehu 24.6.14

Overall ride and climb – 119 km and 2,627m.

Today starts with another famous Tour climb – the Col de Vars.

Col de Vars Summit 2109m

Col de Vars Summit 2109m

 A demanding climb through peaceful landscape: the calm before the storm.

Garry Buys Climbing up Col de Vars

Garry Buys Climbing up Col de Vars

Graphic: Col de Vars

Graphic: Col de Vars


From here it’s up the highest paved col in the French Alps – Col de La Bonnette

Pat started the Bonnette Climb just under halfway, riding 15km at a slope of 10 – 14 % (and 12% slope most of the way); this is like riding to the top of the Turoa ski field.

This spot marks Col de La Bonnette

This spot marks Col de La Bonnette

Graphic: Col de La Bonnette

Graphic: Col de La Bonnette

 At the top of the climb John, the tour leader, had raced ahead in the tour van and set up the tour picnic table with camp chairs, masses of lovely French food and thick wool blankets to ward of the cold. This is the top of a Mountain, after all, and higher than the Mt Ruapehu Summit.

Video of Garry caught eating bread

Rugged up at 2802m

Rugged up at 2802m

 They couldn’t go too fast as frequent hair pin bends could push them over the edge of a cliff. As Pat commented – this gave new meaning to a hair-raising descent (2,860 m).

Pat said, “Descending this Mountain is like falling out of the sky!”

Pat said, “Descending this Mountain is like falling out of the sky!”

Having conquered the Tour de France’s highest pass, they descend into the picturesque old mountain town of St. Sauveur-sur-Tinée, where rest – and a super restaurant awaited!

St. Sauveur-sur-Tinée

St. Sauveur-sur-Tinée

Fantastic meal that night – Garry and Dave, a rider from the USA, shared a huge roast, with the only down side: a dehydrated Garry was not in the best shape for riding the next day!  They all had sorbet with lashing of vodka.

All the meals, wherever they went, were fantastic

All the meals, wherever they went, were fantastic

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