TwoLegsTwoWheels

A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad

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…]

Jul
17

Friday: The Alps beckon

Ok, I’m going to pause in the write-up of my Scotland trip so I can write about my trip to the alps as it happens - but I will finish off the Three Peaks story as soon as I’m back from the Alps, I promise!

bikes_on_the_roof_at_Dover.jpgI arrived in Oxford late last night, and met up with Si, Oli and Vince (Pete is going to join us out there). Packing the car and loading the bikes on took loner than expected - as always! - then it was dinner and off to bed. We awoke early this morning and drove to Dover to catch the 10.30 ferry. It was lovely and sunny, and we sat outside on the small deck; Oli’s late breakfast/brunch sandwich was rudely interrupted by an attacking seagull. We rolled off the ferry at Calais and the rest of the day was a fairly uneventful drive down the autoroute to near Dijon; highlights included Urban Hymns, Thriller and me spending about 4 hours trying to solve a rubik’s cube. We arrived, tired and somewhat hungry, to our planned campsite near Dijon, only to find it was already full. This, however, turned out to be a blessing - the few miles drive to the campsite in the next village took us through some of the prettiest countryside I’ve seen in france. The road climbed up, away from the autoroute, through a forest, and the flat wheat fields gave way to vineyards cladding the southern slopes. The campsite we found was situateed at the top of a village up a steep track, with views out over the village and the surroundings.

Tomorrow, some cycling!

Jul
06

Updates coming…

Sorry for the delay in adding any entries - I’ve been pretty slack about this for a few weeks now! Moving house and trying to write a paper are two things you probably shouldn’t try to do together, and certainly not in may week. I’m soon heading off to the Alps for a week, so I’ll be updating entries again from the end of July. But I’ll have some new things to write about then as well!