We launched a little late thanks to some late onset of jet lag my body decided to have. Went to bed at midnight last night and woke up at 4 and stared at the ceiling for an hour. I got out of bed and took a Melatonin trying to force feed my body to sleep. Evidently I need to drink more vino.
Ben had time to run to the bakery this morning and get a few tasty treats for the preride meal and we made ourselves a feast. Eggs, bacon, two pastries, some bread, fruit. I was thinking that’s plenty but I didn’t have near the foresight necessary for riding the Alps.
With our late start some guys were already head home; back to there lives, wives, and jobs. We got to the main intersection next to the lake near our apartment and we see this group of guys come flying in. Two of the guys had, I’m not shittin’ you, disc’s on they’re rear wheels. What in gods name were those dudes up too? They must have been up to a morning crush session with the boys around the lake. Music to my ears whoo whoo whoo whoo… Ben and I pealed out toward the Col of the day. But not before stopping and getting some air in our tires at the local bike rental shop.
I’m not lying. You leave our front door wander through town a little bit and it’s pretty much uphill from there. We must have climbed for the first two and half hours today to the top of the Col de la Columbiere. The country side is so beautiful here. So Majestic. They take such pride in their home and property. Everything is so well kept.
After climbing for about 45 min we road up on the sign that we have been planning to see. After days of travel and months of planning you see the sign that tells you that you are about to start one of climbs that the boys of the peleton don’t look fondly upon and it hits you. You’re in France. Riding through history. Men were made here, dreams came true on this very hill, men that I, you, look up to. It’s brilliant, gorgeous, tear jerking. It’s finally reality. What you’ve been watching on TV isn’t just on TV anymore. The suffering is reality, you finally understand why they wear the faces they do even when you aren’t conquering these climbs at break neck speeds.
There really isn’t anything like riding the Alps except riding the Alps. Don’t let anyone ever convince you otherwise. It’s like that saying that annoys me to no end “It’s like riding a bike” B.S. nothing is like riding a bike, nothing. Come ride them, climb with goats by your side, snow falling on the climbs, bone chilling descents. Mountains that have no slope just go straight up with these roads just tucked neatly into a very tight place. This place is like no other, make no mistake about it.
We dropped off the other side and even the descents are fabulous. It’s like they made the road for the cyclist. For the guy trying to reward himself for the millimeters of teeth he just ground off getting to the top of this monster. Fast and fluid, no need for breaks; just sit down and let ‘er fly.
After gaining nearing 4000’ feet in elevation you’d think the day was over but you’re in the Alps my friend. Come here expecting that you will end every ride with uphill and reward yourself with a downhill at some point. Our total ride today was just a hair under 140km with just about 2300 meters of climbing, with a running time of about 6.5 hours. A normal ride around here from what I can gather.
This was an epic second day on the bike for sure that I won’t soon forget, with pictures to prove it. Tomorrow is an easier day of meandering in the valley and climbing one or two smaller Col’s that still make any of the west hills look like cute little bumps in the road. Bike riders here are skinny and fast because there really isn’t any choice. You either know how to climb for 2 or 3 hours at a shot or you find something else to do with your time.
In the short time I’ve been here, the French haven’t been the nicest. I see what everyone, even Rick Steves, is talking about. But one thing that I must tip my hat to about the French, these people have figured out a way to coexist with cyclist on VERY narrow roads, on coming traffic, and dicey situations. I never once felt uncomfortable, never once got yelled at, never once got buzzed, and noone ever yelled “Go Lance“. How is it I ask you that a place much more densely populated then the U.S. has found a way for skinny little dudes on slow going bikes and cars going a touch under the speed of sound coexist. Bravo!