Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We're in the Alps!

We've been riding for a little over a week, and we made it from the Cote d'Azur to the high Alps. I was a little surprised on the first day when we had, in Dave's words, a "monstous but relatively short" climb to get out of Opio, where Matt lived and I visited him in 1996. Little did I know that relatively short meant 45 minutes. But by now I've gotten used to the long, slow, several hours long climbs. I almost enjoy them? don't tell anyone.

l'Alpe d'Huez

At the top of l'Alpe d'Huez!
Today we climbed l'Alpe d'Huez, with 21 switchbacks. Then we decided it wasn't time for lunch yet, so we dropped down and climbed even more over a pass, before a 15% grade drop down on a narrow gravelly road. Matt and Dave climbed les 2 Alpes, but I came back.
Intense M&M's and Intense cidre. the beginning of an intense trip

Here's our route so far. The places in bold are where we camped, and everywhere else we stopped in or I just remembered going through.

Le Pylone Camping
Sophia Antipolise
Bar sur Loup (Gorge sur Loup)
Saint Auban ( and la clue de St Auban - it was really cool!)
Brian çonnet
Val du Roure
le Col de St. Raphael
Puget Théniers
Camping du Brec
Le Col de la Colle de St Michel
La Colle de St Michel - we stayed on a farm with a beautiful view! By far my favorite place we've camped
Colmars des Alpes
La Foux d'Allos
Le Col d'Allos - our highest climb so far! 20 km, and the last 6 were steep. The ride down was amazing too!
Matt and I hiked up above the Col d'Allos - our first glimpse of the real Alps!
around the Lac de Serre-Ponçon
le Sauze du Lac
Col de Manse
St Bonnet
Les Egats

and now we're in Bourg D'Oisans! We're spending 2 nights here so we could do the climbs unloaded, but tomorrow we're continuing on! The Alps are really beautiful. There are lots of flowers and waterfalls, little towns and villages, cows, sheep, goats, beautiful gardens, and mountains of course. And it's not 100° anymore.

riding beyond l'Alpe d'Huez

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I'm in France! Days 1-5?

Things really haven't turned out the way we expected them to. We hadn't really been in contact, and didn't even know each others' flight iteneraries. I was worried no one would find me so my dad and I figured out everyones' flights. I arrived last in a different terminal. Luckily, my cousin Matt called us right before I went through security (because he didn't even know what airline he was flying...) and we told him where I'd be and when everyone was arriving. Luckily we all found each other easily. After finally finding the rental car and taking 2 trips to the campground that involved getting lost, we set up the bikes in the off and on rain. And then everything started going wrong.

What we expected to happen:

  • Set up the bikes and tents, get groceries and have a relaxing first day.*
  • Get a 2 day museum pass and spend the next 2 days exploring Paris, and then see what Paris has to offer on bike on the 3rd day since we'd have all our stuff
  • Get on the night train Saturday night from Paris to Nice.
What actually happened:
  •  We got to the campsite with the 2nd load of bikes and realized one tent had been stolen. There was hardly anyone there. The campground had a 2 person tent someone had left there that Matt and I shared with all our stuff, with a broken fly that was perfect for the pouring rain. It meant we could postpone buying a new one though.
  • We decided not to get the museum pass because of the tent and we had to stop at a bike shop on the way to Paris because my headset was loose on my bike. That was a pretty quick fix. But Paris was supposed to be 20km away, and it took us over 2 hours - that's how long it takes me to run that far, so I'm not sure that was right. We did have a nice coffee break when it was raining. We saw the town hall and Notre Dame, walked around in the rain and saw where my aunt, Judy had studied abroad in college.
  • We ate dinner at a restaurant and decided to go see the Eiffel Tower even though it was still raining. By the time we took the metro there and back and got on our bikes, it was midnight. Not to mention it was freezing cold, dark and pouring rain, and 3 of us were wearing jeans. When we were finally almost home, we were going down a hill that went around a curve and Judy's tire slipped into a dip in the road. She hit here hip and her head. A car stopped and helped us call an ambulance, and she went to the hospital. Matt and I got back to the campsite at 3am, showered, and went to sleep, hoping it wasn't too serious. In the morning we found out she had broken her pelvis in 2 places.
  • We spent the day visiting her, buying a new tent, and then rushing to an opera, L'Amour des Trois Oranges. Even though we took thetrain we got there 3 minutes late, so we missed the first half but we got pretty good seats for the second half. Then we took the metro, raced up the steps of the Sacre Couer, then raced back. Oh yeah, it was still cold and raining. There were fireworks starting for Bastille Day though!
  • Saturday we packed up, loaded our bikes and made our way to Paris. The sun managed to show its face for a few minutes, although there was still some rain too. We made it to the train station and then got on our overnight train to Nice.