What happens when you ride the French Alps?
There’s a few funny things we saw when riding in the Alps, things that when you come from Australia aren’t things you’d ever imagine you’d see in your lifetime.
So heading overseas we weren’t very savvy with what to expect and I suppose to a certain extent we specifically didn’t research too much about it either. I’m a big believer in experiencing things first hand rather than seeing everything in photos on the internet first, the recreating a holiday in photos that you’ve already seen dozens of times (think New York City Skyline from the Rockefeller Centre as an example - and yes we did that and got those shots and it was still amazing, but not quite as amazing as if it was the first time we saw the view).
Nevertheless we arrived in France without too much research into what we were in for, except for the fact that we knew there were some big mountain climbs ahead of us.
Temperature changes - Starting a climb at 33 degrees, and ending it after 20km at 5 degrees and sleet. Only to face a ride back down in that sleeting rain. I was just happy to make it back to the bottom alive in all honesty. With all my skin not grazed off and my hands not frozen off. Nothing I have ridden before has changed that drastically, though I suppose I’ve never ridden a 20km climb before either! The old, bring a set of arm warmers and she’ll be right attitude was not sufficient for this trip, I learnt that after the first day ride to La Clusaz.
To add to this, finishing the next climb touching a wall of snow as we pedalled up the final hairpins - So freaking cool.
Inspiring road art - Seeing famous riders – Quintana, Froome, Cadel, Lance, Contador - Painted all over the roads we were riding was pretty surreal - they have ridden these exact same roads as us. Kinda like a fairy tale, a bike fairy-tale.
The views - the views from the top make the ride up more worth it than the satisfaction of merely finishing the climb. Lake Annecy, surrounding mountain views, snow, countryside that includes every cow and sheep laced with a thick leather strapped set of bells round their necks, that sound like relaxing wind chimes.
The kids - School kids on Mountain Bikes climbing up Cols! Namely Madeleine and Colombiere. Seriously. Full classes of 30 or so 7-10 year olds with their teacher on an afternoon bike ride up a freaking mountain!! That’s where the next tour winners are made that’s for sure. I wish I grew up in the French Alps! Best Friday afternoon sport ever!
Parents riding - Specifically their Duallys with a kid seat on the back. UP.ALPE.DHUEZ. We saw them starting as we drove down. We were at the pub at the top when they crossed the finish line, husband, wife and baby in the back. They stopped, put their jackets on, and turned around to RIDE.BACK.DOWN. Double whammy of what the hell! Kids was yelling with joy as they turned around to go back down. Never in my life did I expect to see a kid on the back of a dually going up AND DOWN Alpe D’Huez!
Can we go back to France already??