9:27: Here we go! The record time for the climb is 33 minutes. I know I can ride 14km in less than that on flat terrain, so I’m curious to see how long will it take me to gain 860 vertical metres — the height of one-and-a-half CN Towers, give or take — on gradients that exceed 14 per cent. This isn’t Pottery Road anymore, Bisby…
17:45: Hey, this isn’t so bad. And look: There’s Lac Montriond up ahead. The turquoise Alpine water reminds me of the Rockies…
22:23: …which makes me chuckle when I pass the next hamlet along the route: Les Albertans. Don’t see any pickup trucks, though.
29:23: So this is what a 14-per-cent gradient feels like. Oh dear. If I can just focus on that pretty waterfall up ahead I’ll make it up this climb and…
31:23: WHAT!?! That climb was the first of what I fear will be several switchbacks. And they’re getting steeper. Do they have Uber up here?
31:24: Time for the first of 53 "photo" breaks. Not that I'm exhausted or anything. (Check out a few of my pics at the end of this post.)
33:01: So I’m not going to set any records. At least the switchbacks are ending soon, right?
40:45: And so on.
47:12: OK, that’s 13 switchbacks. I counted, and felt, every one. The good news: The view of the valley behind me is tremendous.
52:21: The road levels out (a bit) in the village of Les Lindarets, which presumably means “The Place Where Goats Eat Tourists’ Leftover Baguette” in English. I am sorely tempted to take an extended break on one of the sunny patios, but if I stop it might be for good. Onwards and upwards!
54:40: “Every time I turn my crank, I go blind. Every time I turn my crank, I go blind. I go bliiiind…” (The Hootie and the Blowfish cover is garbage, BTW.)
59:32: At least the grade’s down to 9 per cent. Single digits I can just about handle.
1:03:41: They’re taking down a huge pine along the road. I do not protest when the workmen ask me to halt so they can drag it out of the way. Take your time, boys, take your time.
1:08:17: Is there a clinical term for a fear of switchbacks? I am developing that phobia.
1:11:32: There goes the last of my water. Good thing the Col is so close…
1:13:26: Victory! If only the chalet at the top were open. But who needs delicious, refreshing, ice-cold beer when I’ve got…er…OK, I would love a beer. Several hundred centilitres might even convince me to climb another 2kms to the Avoriaz ski resort. But no matter: It’s time for the 20km descent back into Morzine.
1:16:18: Those hairpin turns come up fast. Keep it real, Bisby!
1:18:19: Where are all those Alpine springs I saw on the climb up? Granted, much of the scenery is a blur, but my mouth is as dry as a drycleaner’s…drying…stuff.
1:23:26: My figurative prayers have been answered! Along the road, an ornate brass spigot spouts H2O into a stone basin next to a wooden chalet straight out of a Ricola commercial. I’m told the spring water in and around Morzine comes from the same source as Evian water. This particular stuff, however, tastes better than anything store-bought. I fill my bidon, chug it, and fill it again.
1:30:43: These roads are in superb shape. I can let go of the brakes with reckless abandon. If this is what EU memberships get you, why would anyone want to leave? Oh right: Because they’re bitter, xenophobic nit-wits.
1:45:28: Back in Morzine just in time for the end of the three-hour French lunch. Now, about those patio beers…