TwoLegsTwoWheels

A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad

Oct
04

Champs Elysees and home

The cycling for the trip - for us, at least - was over on the Friday. All that remained was to drive back, with an interlude via Paris to watch the final stage of the Tour (by long tradition finishing on the Champs Elysees). Saturday’s plan was to pack, and drive to Paris, where we would spend the night. A combination of a slightly late start, and more traffic than we’d anticipated, meant we didn’t make it as far as we’d hoped by lunchtime. In the end, this turned out to be rather fortuitous: we decided to the turn the enforced delay to our advantage and stop off in Grenoble to see the time trial. This was very productive in terms of pictures (time trial photos), and also it turned out to be a critical leg of the race. Others, I’m sure, have written about the race in far greater depth than I have here, so I’ll simply give a brief overview: Andy Schleck took the yellow jersey on Friday, on the strength of his phenomenal ride the day before, which had left him about 15 seconds behind Voeckler going into Friday’s stage. However, his nearest challenger on Saturday morning was the world-renowned time triallist Codel Evans, who was about 1 minute behind Schleck in the GC competition. Evans managed to take 2 minutes off Schleck in the time trial - with the help of a 30mph bunnyhop over a manhole cover - to take the lead and win overall; cue a mass outbreak of Aussie flags outside most of the bars in Grenoble!
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Sep
24

Friday: up, up, up

The last day of cycling of the holiday arrived, and with it, possibly the biggest challenge of the trip: to cycle the Col de la Bonette, the highest road in France, at 2802m. This ride wasn’t so long as the others, it was just very very high. We drove out to the village of Jausiers, arriving there late morning. I find it rather charmng the way each alpine village has it’s own blend of national characteristics; Jausiers, for example, is quintessetially French, yet there is an unmistakable Italian influence, in such things as the central fountain, the character of the shops, and a dozen other little things, in a very different combination from, say, Sestriere, which is a similar size and also close to the France - Italy border.
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Sep
18

Thursday: to the Galibier

Today sees the tour riders follow a similar route to our Monday ride - they’ll climb Agnel from the Italian side, then over Izuoard, and then finish at the top of the Col du Galibier: the 9th highest paved road in the Alps, according to Wikipedia, and a new record for the highest Tour stage finish. Our plan is to set off, head through Briançon and then watch them somewhere up the final climb.
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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!
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