Monday, July 13, 2015

Day 1&2

At Geneva Airport waiting for Kim Vivian and the van to take our bikes

Putting our Bikes together

View from My room which I am sharing with Lindsay

Bikes everywhere on Sunday Morning 12 July 2015

If only Europe wasn't so far from Australia? Leaving at 10.30 pm on Friday night after a day at work ,it was nearly 24 hours of flying and transferring and driving before we all reached the quaint town of  Bourg-Saint-Maurice ,our home for the next 5 nights as we ride the various cols around the region.

Despite the long flight , lack of sleep , confined space and the long waits at transfers, luggage carousels (waiting for our bike box) , waiting for our hire car etc , the long journey was most definitely worth it for the beautiful part of France we are in . The last time I was in this region was over 25 years ago skiing during the Christmas break at University .It was beautiful and a great experience back then as it is now. The weather has been unbelievably cooperative if not hot .

After our arrival at about 7.15 pm ,that is the car I was in , the rest having arrived at various times in the afternoon or late evening, we all met as a group for dinner at a local restaurant near the town square. Great food with the civilised French 3 courses , a salad , a main and a dessert with beer or wine .I had a beautiful sweet wine but don't know its roots although I suspect it is local. For the main I had fish which turned out to be small anchovies fried and served with a sauce and vegetables . For desert I had a mixed fruit cocktail with some sort of soft cake .There was choice of three for each course and it was simple but tasty French cuisine. The evening was still light and we were there till the sun set well past 9 pm and despite the tiredness it was a great start to the Holiday.

Day 2
The Road at the front of the Hotel

On the way up

High Altitude cows

and donkeys

Everyone was up early I got up at 5am and made my way down at 6am where we all gathered at the front of the  Hotel Arolla- at Bourg Saint Maurice ,accommodation whilst we are at Bourg Saint Maurice, to set up our bikes , then breakfast at 8am and we started out at 9am with the faster group leaving at 9.30am.
selfie on climb

At the top on the French/Italian border

The town on the way down

Today was a climb to  Col du Petit St Bernard , a 31 km climb from our hotel .It was a reasonably constant climb of about 5-6 % . I was pretty much one of the slower riders with no real bike legs to speak of but managed to grind it up all 31kms .It was worth the magnificent views and the experience of climbing such a beautiful mountain . as I passed cyclist or they passed me we all said bonjour and that so far with merci and ca va is the sum total of my French. I did nearly end up in a ditch as two French cyclist passed me and I tried to greet them and manoeuvre the bike at the same time ,me not so well ,and going into a grass depression at the side of the road looking sheepish and the French cyclist chuckling on and asking me "ca va" meaning "are you OK" possibly in French it also means You dumb twit . At the top we rode round a white pillar box structure which signified the Italian /French Border and in the distance was Mont Blanc at 4000 m and we were at 2188 m. My legs were tired , I can't lie .No rides for the last 2 weeks did not help but I wasn't worried about my times just finishing and enjoying the day , which I did. A coffee , a coke and a small blueberry cup cake brought some life back and after the usual photo opportunities and buying some touristy stuff , we headed back down 31 kms ,brakes needed for the hairpin turns unfortunately and the bumpy crevices on the road.
A once a year Sunday market at the Bough St Maurice

A young retriever at the market

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and walking around the town and the square and enjoying a once a year market with music and dance and old crafts and people in costume . It was hot though and I did at least have a bit of a rest in the afternoon before another group dinner .

Tomorrow another day of riding and climbing .Hopefully the legs will be working.