I cycled up my first proper Alpine hill today. It was 5 miles long and approx 800m climb. We reached the little village of St Bernard du Tourvet and could see the snow covered Alps all around us.
Yesterday we left our hotel in drizzle and cycled on quiet undulating roads to Annecy where we stopped for our first coffee break of the day. Obviously a popular holiday town set on the edge of the mountains and beside a lake, our route south then took us along a well built cycle path on a former railway for 20 miles. This was easy riding and offered good scenery. Our lunch was taken in a former train station nicely restored with old engine beside it. The Alps could be seen tantilisingly in the distance.
Despite the weather, we thought that this would be an easy day. Neither of us like to book accommodation ahead and prefer to rely on our instincts. Tonight involved an extra 12 miles ride above what we had planned. Our destination had 3 hotels and rooms but two hotels were closed for repairs and the others fully booked. Hotel George at Montmelian came to our rescue and never have I seen so many staircases in one building. It was up on a twisty stone stair for one floor then one came down again while there was a choice of two to the next floor. Accommodation and beakfast was good.
Today however was the big day for my first col.
I am used to hills in Devon. They are short and often steep. This hill was completely different. It was never ending for 5 miles. The only respite were the hairpin bends where momentarily they were steeper. Anyhow the top was reached with immense relief and spectaculaaaar views. The route down was just the same. I worried about my brakes but I also thought of Stefan. He would have taken this downhill like a rocket and probably arrived at the bottom 20 minutes before me.
It was back to easy riding for our destnation today was Grenoble. Unlike Geneva, this city had built excellent cycle routes into it. When we arrived we found the city to be at comfort with itself. The French architecture and higgledy piggledy roads were full of interesting buildings and shops. People were able to walk or cycle without fear of being run over. We decided to walk the city, have a liesurely meal outside and people watch.
Meanwhile Dagmar bought herself a replacement water bottle for one she had lost. It was bright red and her bike to me now looks like it is carrying a fire extinguisher.