Sunday, September 03, 2006
Thursday, August 31, 2006
After the descent back to the hotel it was lunch time so we did it up with our pal Mark from OR. It was a 3 hour affair complete with two bottles of wine and lake views. Things don't get much better than this.
This was our last day on the road so we wanted to get the most out of it so after lunch we decided to try paragliding off of the mountains! Wow unreal.
L'Abbaye was one of the coolest places we have ever stayed. It is definitely worth a return visit.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Annecy proved to be a beautiful city set at the north end of a Lac Annecy with mountains on both sides. The city was complete with great restaurtants off of the canal from the lake. We stopped with a group for another pizza and salad lunch. This was a much bigger town than we were used to. While we thought a bigger town would be nice, we couldn't wait to leave and head to our only 4 star hotel of the trip, L'Abbaye, in Tallories.
This place was a dream come true; a beautiful, swimable lake, gorgeous rooms, lounge chairs next to the lake with drink service, and fine gourment dining. We had the good fortune to stay here two nights....we wish it would have been a week!!!!
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Beaufort was a charming village and home of the Beaufort regional cheese factory. We took the 5 minute self guided tour...so much for the cheese factory.
After the "big tour" we were famished as usual so decided to settle in for lunch at one of the cute little local hotels.
This was one of the best lunches of our entire trip. Check out the fresh lake trout!
Monday, August 21, 2006
Today's ride took us slong the valley with the first major climb of the day to the top of the Col du Cucheron. By this time in the trip the climbs seemed easier. I guess we were expecting the worse every day. The most memorable part of this day was the fabulous lunch in the small village of Raden next to a booming river. We sat down to a four course lunch for three with wine for under 40 euro; pork roast, veggies, salad and desert, along with our standard "pichet" of rose.
The ride from lunch was a bunch of fun rollers where we took advantage of Glen's wheel dragging us into our hotel next to the freeway in Albertville.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Once again we had a climb to the lovely hillside hotel in Pinsot. What a crazy day.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
The climb starts off at over 10% for the first few kms then settles down to around 8-9%. Each turn is marked with a number starting at 21 with the last turn as 1. On the signs are past winners of this stage. The views were spectacular. We actually rode up with a young 13 year old Belgium boy. What a stud. Who says you have to have a fancy bike, the right pedals and shoes. Needless to say he went by us about 2/3 of the way up. I don't think it was fair that his mother brought him fruit and water at every turn!
The views were stunning with mountains all around you. One can only imagine what this place is like in the winter. It took us 1 hour and 38 minutes to reach the top, only about an hour slower than Lance! What a memorable day!
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
On the way to our lunch stop we couldn't pass up a shot of this road side greasy spoon in honor of our daughter Kelly:
After a luch of meats, cheese and fruit from the local "Casino" store we began the long gradual ascent up to the summit of the col d'Ornon.
But the descent to Bourg d'Oisan was worth it!
Bourg d'Oisan is the cycling mecca in France, especially two days before the tour arrives to climb Alp d'Huez. They have all kinds of wild things going on. Check out this 10 foot diameter frying pan perched over a real log fire. We never made it back to see the results but it smelled good!
Our hotel was 10 miles out of town but we figured it would be an easy ride....not so...a major 10% grade landed us on the doorsteps of our hotel. We had a spectacular view from our hotel room complete with a waterfall and local vegtable garden.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
This day would prove to be one of our toughest with two major climbs; Col de Rousset and the Col de Menee. We continued our ride through the Vercor region wtih it's stunning rock cliffs. The first climb Col de Rousset was more gradual than many of the other climbs we had done and we finally got our climbing "rythum" down making the ascent seem almost easy for once. At the top we were treated to one of the grandest descents of the trip.
A long winding 2800 foot descent was a gas and put us on the northern edge of Provence as we observed the beautiful lavender fields. The temperature climbed at least 10 degrees on the way down putting temps in the low 90's....summer was here in Southern France. We had a typical Williams lunch in the town of Die...check out the local produce on these salads; a nicoisce and chevre (goat)...Yummm!
Thinking all would be easy after lunch it seemed like we climbed the remainder of the afternoon amidst a background of thunder and about 10 minutes of refreshing rain showers before eclipsing the summit of the Col de Menee. The descent to Chichilianne was fast and easy and with the thunder clouds above and the famous Mt. Aiguille in the distance, all quite dramatic. All in all a 70 mile + day with 6,000 feet of vertical climbing!
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Day four was an "official" day off. But, did we relax, NO WAY! We decided to ride the suggested "day off" ride that was part of the 2000 TDF. This was a spectacular ride up the rock walled roads and into the pine trees. The roads with "etched" with tour rider names in white paint, "Jan Ulrich, Tom Booden, etc...". The climb topped out at the famous Calvaire de Valchevriere--a memorial to those who died serving the "Resistance". The views were spectacular.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The day started off nice and easy along rolling farmland until we made a wrong turn and found ourselves climbing 15% grades in the countryside just north of lake Paladru. Our goal today was the infamous Col de Romeyere in the beautiful Vercors National Park.
The climb was the toughest on the entire trip; almost 9 miles at 8-10% with hot, humid conditions. But, the scenry was aboslutely spectacular. The high pass road was literally carved out of the rock cliffs. The pictures tell the story.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
From here we rode south along the Rhone and climbed to one of the best vistas of the trip complete with a rock tunnel! Our lunch stop was in Chanaz at the bottom of the mountain on a beauftiful canal. From the lunch stop we climbed again this time wtih views of a beautiful vineyard valley, similar to Napa but much more expansive. The remainder of the way to the hotel brought us through lush farmland laden with corn to sunflowers.
Friday, August 04, 2006
All the anticipation and waiting was over the first "official" riding began. With yesterday's warm up climb under our belt the first "COL"of many on this trip, col de faucille was not too bad. It felt like quite an accomplishment and we had only gone 20 miles! The rest of the day's ride went through beautiful pastures complete with the cows and their bells.