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Photographs from my holiday in France, July 2009

Thursday 16 July
 
No riding yesterday because we spent the day travelling from Argeles Gazost up to Bourg D'Oisans in the Alps. We made up for it today with a 170km loop from Bourg D'Oisans, up the valley to the Col du Glandon, up and over the Col du Galibier then down the Col du Télégraphe, then back up the Col de la Croix de Fer and back to Bourg D'Oisans. The weather was once again hot and sunny and on the first few kilometres of the Croix de Fer the sun was beating down on us as well as reflecting off the road and the stone walls on the road side. George did a sneaky few extra kilometres when he missed the turn off about 10km up the climb and took a wrong turn up towards La Toussuire.

Hazy early morning view from the dam at the bottom of Les Deux Alpes
Bourge du Chambon
Looking down from the dam at the bottom of Les Deux Alpes
Bourge du Chambon
Col du Galibier summit
Col du Galibier
Col du Galibier summit
Col du Galibier

Friday 17 July

The weather took a turn for the worse today when it started to rain during breakfast. It stopped after about an hour though and three of us decided to ride from Bourg D'Oisans to our next hotel in Les Houches, near Chamonix. Although the rain had stopped the clouds remained menacing and always threatened to open up and drench us. We stopped at Albertville, host town of the 1992 Winter Olympics, for lunch. As we were about to get back on the bikes the heavens opened and it rained like I haven't seen for a long time, at least since last year on the descent from Chamrousse near Grenoble.

The next day was spent relaxing and wandering around Chamonix, looking around outdoor gear shops, and sitting around in cafés. The steady rain that hung around for most of the day made doing anything outdoors not very appealing.

The following day was a different matter. The cloud cleared by mid morning and turned into a glorious hot sunny day. We rode over the Col des Montets and Col de la Forclaz and into Switzerland to watch the Tour de France stage that ran from Pontarlier to the ski village of Verbier in Switzerland. Three of us decided to go for a ride up the Col du Grand St Bernard, a 24.4 km climb with average gradient of 6.2%. The combination of the great weather and stunning mountain scenery made it a fantastic ride.

Across the border into Switzerland
Switzerland
Looking towards the mountains from the top of the Col de la Forclaz
Col de la Forclaz
Riding up the Col du Grande Saint Bernard
Col du Grande Saint Bernard
At the top of the Col du Grande Saint Bernard
Col du Grande Saint Bernard
Simon Spilak (Lampre) gets to the bottom of the climb to Verbier almost a minute ahead of the rest of the breakaway
Verbier
The Saxobank team leads the chase at the bottom of the climb to Verbier
Saxobank Chasing
The "autobus" watch the race unfolding further up the climb on the big TV screen as they get to the bottom
l'Autobus
The rear of the "autobus"
l'Autobus

Tuesday 21 July
 
The plan today was to take the cable car up to Aiguille du Midi (midday needle). The cable car leaves from Chamonix at 1035m and goes up to an altitude of 3842m. The sky was completely covered in cloud in the morning and by breakfast it had started to rain which didn't bode well for a good view! The 2 cable car rides to the top took around 10 minutes each, with the last section being very steep. The rain stopped and the cloud, while always present, was not too low to obscure the views from the top. On a clear sunny day it would be truely spectacular.

Clouds over Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc Clouds
Chamonix from the Aiguille du Midi cable car
Chamonix
Aiguille du Midi
Aiguille du Midi
Walkers heading down the ridge from Aiguille du Midi
Aiguille du Midi

Wednesday 22 July
 
The last four days of the trip were based at Aix les Bains, a small town in Savoie about 30km south of Annecy. The mountains weren't quite as severe in this area as they were in the Pyrenees and around Bourg D'Oisans but that was probably not a bad thing near the end of 2 physically demanding weeks. It seems like quite a nice, pretty town - in the centre anyway - except for all the little local hoods driving around at night in their crappy little loud hatch-backs with sound systems that cost more than their cars, and muppets on scooters that scream like jet engines at 30km/h! ;-)

The location was also close to Annecy, the location of the last individual time trial of the Tour de France, and only 3 days from the end of the Tour. See page 3 for photos from the Tour de France Annecy Time Trial.

Descending into clouds at the top of the Col du Glandon
Col du Glandon
The view east from the Col des Aravis
Col des Aravis
Riding up the valley towards Chamonix
Chamonix
The view across Lac d'Annecy from the Col de la Forclaz
Col de la Forclaz
Col de la Forclaz
Col de la Forclaz
Annecy
Annecy
Annecy
Annecy
The view over Aix les Bains from le Revard
Aix les Bains

Images from my holiday in France, July 2009

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