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Published: June 23rd 2017
This entry by Tom.
So it’s another beautiful day here in France, and by “France” I mean “planet Vulcan”. High temps are forecast to be well into the 30’s again.
If it weren’t already totally obvious that the Campanile Centre Gare used to be the Nouvel Hotel, the breakfast room sealed the deal. Very good spread at a more than fair price; I almost regretted not eating here yesterday. Loaded up plus made a sandwich for the road.
The plan was to get the van and all the bags to the hotel's loading zone by 7:30am. That actually happened. Even with far too much photography going on, we all still managed to head off before 8am.
We shouldn't have been on the road on the way out of Annecy. We eventually switched to the bike path and rode that as far as we could. The way back to the road was short but steep; Henry jammed his chain.
Nearly all of us, except Dave, Linda and Mark who chose the bigger Semnoz, headed up the climb to Leschaux. It was scenic and not difficult; there were signs every kilometre like in the Alps showing elevation and
gradient. It never got above 5%.
About half way up the ladies in the van came by and waved me down. Henry was having mechanical issues and needed a bike shop. I directed them to ProVélo. I wondered if it had something to do with the problem he had earlier. (It did; his chain bent. ProVélo fixed him up quick and afterwards he was dropped at Leschaux.)
We splintered on the climb but we almost all came together at Col de Leschaux. Another imitation of Japanese tourists broke out. Turns out Carole carries her iPad with her on the bike to take photos. For some reason, Dan never arrived. We knew that he'd stayed with Henry to try and remedy that problem, but still, he should have made it to the top in the time we spent there. But Dan has GPS so we didn't really think too much about it and moved on.
Very nice descent. We saw even more other cyclists than we did on the way up, including a pro! It was clearly an AG2R-La Mondial rider. He was all kitted up and was on a matching blue Focus bike. (I found out later
that AG2R-La Mondiale is based in Chambéry, not far away.)
So it turns out that Dan really did get lost somehow. This is a mystery since the road up to Leschaux is obvious and signed. Don went back to find him.
Our slightly diminished group made the short detour to Pont de l’Abîme. It was worth it.
Carrying on we continued to descend along D911 then climb along D211 where we stopped at a small shop in Le Montcel to reload. It was warming up and we were working up a sweat with all the climbing. Some of the water was cold but all of the water was wet; good enough. Dan and Don rejoined the group while we were stopped here.
Damn nice views of Aix-les-Bains and Lac du Bourget as we headed down towards Chambéry. As we started to make our way through Chambéry, I heard a hissing sound but it wasn't from my bike. Dan punctured his rear tire. We pulled over and he fixed it quickly enough.
I suspect everyone had a problem, great or small, getting through Chambéry. No real way around it though; we had to cross a river and at least one autoroute and it was going to be tricky. I took one incorrect exit from a roundabout but thankfully realized it right away.
Found Caroline and the ladies in the van where they said they'd be. With the big climb and descents for the day behind us, the plan was for Caroline and I to ride the final 41 km from Chambéry to the finish at Voiron through the Chartreuse park. Despite the heat, we grabbed a quick lunch from a bakery and a big bottle of cold water from a tabac and set off. The others went big at a creperie.
The road was a bit uphill at first but nothing too difficult. What did turn out to be too difficult was dealing with the heat and the mid-day sun. Caroline called for a pick-up after 6 km.
We found a shady spot to wait for the van or the gang from lunch, whichever came first. Turned out to be the gang from lunch so I jumped on the back. We plugged away to Col de Couz and then enjoyed the descent, especially the part through the St Christophe tunnel.
Stopped for a moment in Les Éschelles, the van pulled up--with Caroline safely tucked in--and Luce went around with a jug, filling our bottles, saving us the trouble (and expense) of heading into the small local grocery. The ladies in the van have been delivering solid support the past few days along the route, helping us cope with the heat.
There was another nearly 200 m climb before the final descent into Voiron, which again delivered beautiful views of the town on the way down.
At our hotel in Voiron, another Kyriad where we’ve stayed before (the Kyriad Voiron Chartreuse-Centr'Alp), we found that the van had arrived shortly before we did and needed to be unloaded quickly because Mark was VERY lost and needed a rescue. This was peculiar since he's been on a bunch of these France trips before, sets his own agenda, but always shows up at the end eventually. But like the rest of us, it sounds like he took a wrong turn in Chambéry…except unlike the rest of us, he just kept going.
Mark rides without GPS, which generally isn't a problem, but also without a phone, which is. He called Luce from a hardware store(!) from a small town that looked to be half way between Chambéry and Albertville. A plan was hatched to pick him up at a point that Google Maps estimated to be about a 75-minute drive from Voiron.
After a shower and a rest Caroline and I went out to find dinner. We just wanted something quick and easy and a very nice little pizza take-out shop a few blocks from the hotel had the goods. We sat at a park bench to eat, and then walked over to a gas station I knew from previous stays in Voiron for cold drinks.
Back at the hotel, Mark was there. It sounds like the rescue went to plan, but that still consumed about three hours.
And that was finally the end of another long, hot day.
Tot: 0.033s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 9; qc: 23; dbt: 0.007s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb