Friday, July 8, 2011
It is hard to believe that just last week I was riding into Nice. Almost two months of cycling sure went by fast. In fairness that is sort of a retrospective on the trip. During those first few days of the Les Dex Alpes tour climbing out of Lake Como and into Visp and the Col Du Grand St Bernard seemed like the tour was never going to end. It may have been the rain and gloom which pervaded those days which leant that perspective to the trip.
It is good to be back home. There are so many things we take for granted that a trip like this makes you miss. Simple stuff like taking a clean dry shirt off the hanger instead of a damp wrinkled thing from the bottom of your clothing stuff sack. Getting a clean glass from the cupboard and filling it with ice cold water from the water dispenser on the fridge is so nice compared to having a big swig of warm water from your bikes water bottle, even though you cleaned your bottle just ten days ago. Sliding between two crisp sheets just beats crawling into a sleeping bag that you have slept in for the last six weeks.
So let me jump into the big question that is on every ones mind. Would you recommend this trip. There is absolutely no doubt that I would totally recommend Bike Dreams. They delivered a very solid product at a very good price. It is totally true we did not stay in 5 star hotels. However we did not pay 5 star prices. We did have 5 star food. Yaap the cook fed us the best meals you could want. I would tell him every day that he made my favourite dishes and he would say that can’t be true as you say that every day. Well when the food is great it isn’t hard to say that it is your favourite. The other thing was there was lots of wine on the table. Where do you see that? Richard the mechanic and lunch maker and everything else that needed doing staffer was the other main highlight of the trip. Got a problem? Richard would pull the solution out of his bag of magic tricks. It didn’t matter if it was your bike which needed repair or if you were just feeling blue Richard fixed everything.
With the big ride of 2011 out of the way I am clear to work on my running for the rest of the year. I still have a half marathon and two full marathons to run this year.
So what about next year? Where to next year? Another cross America? How about a cross Canada with Cycle Canada? They offer a catered tour now which looks pretty appealing. Or maybe the Tour d’Afrique’s Amber route from St Petersburg in Russia to Venice. So many chooses. What are you doing?
Don't ask about the photos they are just a couple of random shots
Friday, July 1, 2011
It was pretty warm when we got up this morning and there was no doubt that it was going to be a scorcher. There was a lot of excitement in the air as everyone was excited about finishing the tour, and going home. However there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that it was still going to be a tough day. There were still two hills to climb and 120 kms to cover.
As I set out I caught Dennis and snapped his picture. Then we rolled down pasted this medieval castle and town which was built in 1536. Jurg and I stopped for a picture but did not go in as we had stopped there last night. It was quite a place and it would have been fun to explore it some more but there was no time.
We rolled down the 12 kms to the first climb and started up. Although it wasn’t the steepest climb on the tour I just had no legs because of yesterdays all out effort. I was sure glad to see the summit some 15 km later. We then rolled down though this amazing canyon. It had to be 400-500 feet deep. Richard stopped the van and crawled out to get a look.
After lunch was the second climb and it was now 37 C. The total climb was 12 kms and I made it up about 6 before I had to stop. I was total done. It took a bout 10 minutes of sitting under a tree before I could continue.
The roll down from the summit to the sea was great. We formed up about 25 kms from the final desitnation for a group ride into Nice as it is a big city. Wilbert the tour leader took us up to this park which over looked the city where we had some champagne and treats before going to the hotel.
It was a great celebration supper in the hotel and lots of speeches and merry making.
Last night Richard grabbed my bike and made a canopy for it. Then at supper dressed in a bra and shorts and came out riding my bike. It was pretty funny. I then had to take it for a spin around the campground.
To day was the last of the Cols and was the longest and hardest day of the Les Dex Alpes. We were to climb the Col du Bonette which has a summit at 2780 meters. Then after a 70 km down hill we were to climb this second pass which summit was at 1680 meters. The total milage for the day was to be 158 kms. A long day without the two climbs.
Jurg and I had figured that it was going to be close to a 10 hour day including stops and lunch. Breakfast was at 6:00 Am and we were on the bikes at 6:35. About 3 kms out of camp we came upon a herd of sheep being driven up the road. It was pretty neat as they just flowed around you.
The weather was perfect for the first climb. It was 28 kms to the summit and we where there by 9:00 Am. It was an exceptional effort and was only possible as we had a cool weather and no wind. The views were absolutely stunning.
Lunch was down at 67 kms. There we found out that the road was closed so the alternatives where we were go over another col or ride down this valley. We choose the valley. It was all downhill but the head wind was brutal. You had to work like heck to keep rolling. At any rate we rolled in exhausted.
Tomorrow we ride to Nice and the end of the tour.
It was a great looking day this morning and Jurg and I were off early as the heat of the day builds early. When I got up it was already 20 C in my tent.
Today the ride was 88 kms and 2350 meters of climb. We were to cross the Col D’Izoard and the Col Du Vars. The Col D’Izoard is one of the climbs which is on the Tour Du France route. It was 16 kms all greater that 8% with lost of sections greater than 12%.
It is really cool riding these sections of the Tour Du France. I grind away at 7-9 kms/hr and the tour riders average 25 kms/hr. The first col seemed pretty easy even though it had the most climb associated with it.
We then cruised down though a beautiful canyon and down to lunch after lunch there was a detour which took us over this huge hill were there were some fantastic views of the canyon. It was extremely steep on the detour. It was an old road which was not used any more. I think they were building a new tunnel.
The second Col of the day was Col D’ Vars which was another 17 kms and only reached 2108 meters. However it is now the full heat of the day and I saw a sign showing 37 C. The first 7 kms are in the wide open with out a speck of shade and all 9-12% grade. By the time I get 6 kms I am totally over heated. So we stop and Richard comes along and pours a bucket of cold water over my head. It felt great. Jurg and I ride on and reach the village of Vars where Richard is having coffee. I get my dry clothes out of the van and as it is only 8 kms to the top of the col we ride on. The Col d’Vars is not on the tour and there isn’t much there just a sign post.
We roll down hill and into camp. It was a really tough day. Tomorrow is the last of the cols, Cols De La Bonette, and Col de la Couillole. It is the toughest day of the tour. We start at 6:00 AM. As a side note you should the Auzzies talking about the “Col duh Bon Eh” It is a killer.