We had a plan.... we were going to hit some of the cols that we have seen on Le Tour. They are all here, the hard passes that guys on bicycles go up and down during the summer. What could be better?
316 km of of fantastic mountains... very twisty, very technical. Col du Petit St-Bernard, Col de l`Iseran, Col du Mont Cenis, Col du Telegraphe, and Col du Gabilier. If you've ever watched Le Tour, even the names conjure up images of steep climbs & hair-raising descents.... perfect!
So when we got up in the morning & looked outside, we figured it was time for a modification. You have to understand that even though Michelle & I have a "plan", it isn't written in stone. We have places we think we'd like to ride, and a rough route, but no where we have
to be, and no schedule to keep. Freestyle.
We set of in a cold drizzle, and I apologize in advance for the lack of pics from day 02. It was just so crappy and cold that we just wanted to make some tracks south. We opted for a route more along the valley out of Chamonix towards Albertville, avoiding a couple of the climbs early. Our hope was the weather would improve. We stopped in Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne for lunch & warmed up a bit. The waitress asked which way we were headed, and when we told her, she said the Col du Gabilier was ferme. Bummer..... after lunch we decided to have a look up that road, and the sign told us OPEN! Cool! So up over Col du Telegraphe we went. yes, it was chilly, but not bad. Bit of drizzle... but we're troopers
Onwards & upwards to Col du Gabilier. We saw signs urging "Thomas" onwards (we guessed Tommy Volker, French cyclist & extraordinary climber), and we pressed on too. It was getting quite cold now. BMW thoughtfully intergrates a temperature gauge on the display.. that flashes when the temp gets down around 3° C. Our displays had been flashing a long time, and were showing about -0.5° C or so with the drizzle turning to slight ice pellets. Onwards & upwards...
At the top of the Col there's a tunnel through to the other side. We went through with frozen fingers crossed and were greeted by..... snow.
Quite a lot of it in fact. We stopped, Michelle popped in some chemical hand warmers so she could feel her fingers, and decided the Col had won this time.
We headed back down, and based on altitude & weather reports, decided to head more for Turin in Italy. I managed to find a tunnel that would take us through the mountain.. but they wanted something like €28 each in toll ONE WAY!
We turned around and got back on the valley road. We rode for a while & decided that since tomorrow was supposed to be a nicer day anyway, we may as well stop for the night. We spotted a sign off the D 1006 into Bramans saying there was a hotel, so into town we went. We found the very charming Hotel les Glaciers
in the center of town. They had rooms, and they would be serving dinner.... SWEET!
The view from our terrace:
A couple from Germany showed up shortly after us... also looking a bit road weary
I didn't understand the conversation they had, but basically it went like:
him "I'll go see if they have a room"
her: "sound of teeth chattering"
him: "seems a bit expensive"
her: "we'll take it"
When we got our stuff up to the room, they even had the heat on! Double bonus.
Gear was dry by the A.M.
more route re-planning:
Yes Kevin.. I use paper maps to supplement the GPS
They had a fixed menu dinner on offer that night.
Quiche & salad to start
A home made sausage & potato dish for the main, and a choice of dolce to finish.
All accompanied by an excellent French red.
After a dinner like that, and a good night's sleep, day 03 could be nothing but fantastic right?
So in the end, instead of 316 km of mountain climbing, we did about 230 km of valleys (but we did do half the Col du Gabilier, so that should count for something).