This part of the trip started out as a filler. We were waiting until rains reduced in South East Asia. Yet, as plans were made and ideas were formed it certainly became a fabulous trip in it’s own right.
We decided we would ride to North East Italy to visit John’s father. We would meander through rural France, chose the flatest route over the border and slowly make our way through these culinary wonderlands. Then I started gazing at maps and getting yet more crazy ideas!
To date, each part of our trip has included a significant element of physical and mental challenge. In our first stage we cycled, pushed and carried our bikes and panniers around the Annapurna circuit in Nepal – the peak of which being the Thorong La pass at 5416m. We had followed much of the Yak Attack race route – listed in the top ten endurance bike challenges in the world. This list also includes our second stage trip - Tour d’Afrique (TDA), a race covering the length of the African continent.
So, given this year sees the 100th Tour de France and we can, we are heading to climb Alps d’huez from where we will then watch the pros coming after us. Unlike many other amateurs we will attempt this 1800m climb on our touring bikes with luggage. No doubt I will look on at the lightweight carbon racers with envy yet the sense of pride when we finally reach the top will be amazing.
To date we have cycled around 540km having left Epernay on Monday – 6 days ago – and we now found ourselves camping just South of Montalieu-Vercieu. For this trip I have finally invested in a GPS system, given our ability to carry very detailed maps is limited. However, with such a hectic time at home I have neither managed to load detailed maps or really find out how my new Garmin Etrex 30 actually works. Fortunately, our fellow rider is more tech savvy and so we have been planning routes on his Garmin and I hope I can get a basic lesson in how to use my new device.
I had planned a route using my Cycle France book though with two broken spokes (on Thijs bike) and with John now unwell we have stayed to the West and away from tough mountain climbs until we have to face the inevitable. As with all independent bike tours we have constantly been changing and adapting our route – such is the freedom of carrying all your gear. These detours then have seen us go via larger towns, in search of bike shops and building in a full rest day in the hope John will feel better ready for our Alps d’huez day. We smiled as we arrived into Troyes, spotting TDA flagging tape as we entered the town but this time we were going our own way and detours are simply part of the ride.