TwoLegsTwoWheels

A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad

Aug
31

Wednesday: the Tour goes to Italy

Bright sunshine this morning - the weather was definitely trying to make up for yesterday! We decided to have a relatively easy day today, and head over to Sestriere in Italy to watch the Tour come past. We actually followed the same route as today’s stage for much of the way, into Briancon from the south and then heading north-east towards Montgenevre and the Italian border. The ride to Briancon was pretty busy this morning, presumably with people coming to watch the tour come through the town. However, once out on the other side we were out on an open road up to the village of Montgenvre, a relatively low pass at 1860m (about 500m above Briancon). DSCF4569.JPGThe first few miles were slightly downhill, and with the wind behind us along the straight road we were flying along at a nice pace in the company of plenty of other cyclists - it seemed like half of France had come to watch this stage! [Read More…]

Aug
12

Tuesday: snow, in July.

This morning brought us another grey, dingy day. We had breakfast and got the bikes ready, in a rather half-hearted fashion; only Vince seemed very keen to get out and go for a spin. For my part, my legs were tired enough from yesterday that wet weather seemed like an excuse to have a day off today! Apart from Vince, noone really fancied a cold and wet ride, but equally, it was very frustrating sitting around indoors. As time edged on towards lunch we held a council of war to decide one way or the other, rather than letting the day pass us by. Si’s outline plan for the week had been a ride today - somewhat shorter than yesterday’s - and then a day’s walking tomorrow, possibly with a swim in a lake he’d seen on the map in the next valley. The consensus was, that since walking in the rain is less unpleasant than cycling in the rain, we would swap Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s plans, and go for a walk up to the glacier today; hopefully the weather tomorrrow will be nice enough to ride, and if not, we’ll probably go anyway. After all, that’s why we came!
[Read More…]

Jul
30

Monday: trial by bike

180km riding; 3,500m of climb; Agnel; Izouard. For anyone who’s watched the Tour de France these names will be well-known. They are two of the most spectacular - and hardest - climbs on the route of the tour, and this year they were riding them both in the same day. We didn’t quite follow the same route as the race - the race will ascend the Col Agnel from the Italian side on Thursday, whereas we rode to it from Briançon on the French side - but ours was similar. The Col Agnel is the pass over the border between France and Italy between Briançon and Sempeyre, and at 2744m is one of the highest in the Alps. We started out from our cottage at around 1100m and took a brief detour up and down the side of the valley to avoid the main road; we saw lots of cyclists on this route, rather to my surprise; perhaps they were all doing a similar thing to avoid the Monday morning traffic.[Read More…]

Jul
17

Sunday: wet.

the_valley_we_stayed_in.jpgWe’ve certainly got lucky with our accommodation! Simon (who booked it) was worried that it was quite expensive, but so far it definitely seems worth it! I have a double bed and a view over the valley, and at night I can hear the river. I’m happy with it! :-) And, importantly, there are 3 showers too. It was my turn to cook last night, so I quickly rustled up some pasta and lentils. We washed this down with a bottle of 2009 Cotes du Rhone, a lovely soft red wine; French wine certainly justifies it’s reputation!
[Read More…]

Jul
17

Saturday: Alpe d’Huez

A discussion ensued late last night after our arrival at the campsite: over dinner we were trying to decide our cycling plans for today. The original plan had been to continue the drive towards Briancon, and to stop off en-route at the Alpe d’Huez. Alpe d’Huez is one of the most famous climbs on the Tour de France, drawing crowds of spectators; it’s just over 1000m of ascent and is rated a ‘hors categorie’ in the Tour’s mountain stage classification. This year, it forms the finish to Friday’s stage. Pre-climb nerves were starting to set in last night, and we were also considering that starting our week with an incredibly tough climb after sitting in a car for a day and half night not be the best plan! The alternative, inspired by the beautiful surrounding we have found ourselves in at this campsite, is to ride around here in the morning, and then drive straight to Briancon, possibly returning later in the week to do the Alpe d’Huez. However, we felt the draw of the mountains, and decided to eschew the beautiful scenery of the Burgundy vineyards for the attractions of the climb.
[Read More…]