Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Pedalling not paddling

I haven't done a lot of paddling this year, partly because of the miserable weather but partly because I was training for a bike tour.
I'd taken a notion to a bike tour in Europe, probably somewhere in the flat northern bits, which would allow me to visit family. With the road atlas out, however, I noticed an interesting line of roads through the Alps. Having had a glass of whiskey or two, I then rather rashly booked a flight to Nice and a return from Geneva.
Over the next few days I began to realise the enormity of the plan. I seriously didn't know if I was up to propelling a bike and camping gear over a selection of the the biggest baddest passes in France.
Lots of painful training ensued, culminating in an arrival in Nice on a late August day, with the temperature at 30 degrees. I was hot, bothered, and didn't have a plan B. The next day I was meant to be travelling the highest paved road in Europe.
Seven days later I made it to Geneva. It was the toughest thing I've ever done on a bike, and I still can't sit down quite right. Here's some pictures.

First night, grotty campsite, feeling ill and deydrated

Highest road in Europe. Still feeling ill and dehydrated
Handy road signs

Somebody's been here before

It cooled down. A lot.

Journey's end
At the top of the Col de l'Iseran, at high altitude in evening gloom and gathering clouds I encountered a strange Dutch lady who brought me down to earth. I guess she was about 70, and she was built like a sparrow. She had a mountain bike from the 1980's, with 35kg of baggage. I suspect she was pushing her own weight again up these enormous passes. Far more impressive than all the youngsters on their carbon fibre. She thought I was a bit of a lightweight. I guess I'd better go back to paddling.

1 comment:

  1. Impressive stuff Iain... the things we plan over a dram!!

    Kind Regards