July 9 – Ferney-Voltaire to Eloise 48.1 miles
This day started out with a climb over the Col de la Facille. It was a pretty hard 6 mile climb to a 4300’ pass. It was billed as an easy climb, so we knew we were in for some hurt in the days to come. We just hadn’t done the level of training we needed to in order to feel comfortable with riding in the Alps. We pretty much were riding by ourselves because we were slower than everyone else. We just kept on trudging up and eventually crested. We got supplies from Kyle, the sag support person, then headed down. We caught up with a group at the bottom of the climb, some who were lost and some who were just not sure which way they wanted to ride. We teamed up with another tandem, Ed and Janet, and two singles, Tom and John, and the six of us worked our way along to the end of the course in Eloise.
Eloise was a gorgeous village high on a hill. A little church dominated it. Our hotel was very nice. One interesting thing we found in every hotel was the light systems. When you enter a hallway, the lights are generally off. You push a switch (found near most every door) and the hall lights up for about a minute. This is obviously an efficient energy saving innovation.
July 10 – Eloise to Champagneux – 61 miles
We took off early to beat the heat. The rest of the bunch caught us 12km down the road at a little town called Seyssel. Very scenic place with a street fair going on and a nice little bridge downtown. They split off to climb extra mountains. We took the flat course to Chanaz, a town along a canal leading to Lac du Bourget, the largest lake in France. We got a snack, then tried to find the public fountain. We got lost and asked a woman for help. She invited us to her home and filled our bottles. Once again our limited French was put to good use.
Then we went out for a bit of a climb to the Col de Chat (2093’). Had beautiful views of the lake and an abbey right down on the water. Then we flew down the mountain toward our hotel. The last 10 km were very hot and very flat. We were very tired. Then we made a right turn to our hotel and had a STEEP .5 km climb. That almost did everybody in! But it had been a terrific day. Hot, almost 90, but terrific.
At dinner that night, Sheila broke the cap on her front tooth while eating bread. She was worried because the rest was loose so we decided to look for a dentist the next day.
July 11, Champagneux to Rencurel 48 miles
Again we took off early, hoping to get the tooth fixed and hoping to beat the heat. In the first town we came to we asked a baker if there was a dentist in town. She gave us directions. We asked directions twice more before we finally found it. The dentist was terrific. She didn’t speak English, but we made our needs known. She took us in within 10 minutes. In an hour we had the tooth fixed. It only cost 74 Euros, about $90.
We got lost fairly soon after that, ending up on a road under construction. We had to work our way around a steamroller and a grader before we could get back on the course. Pretty soon we saw another member of our group who was waiting for the sag wagon. The heat and climbing from the first two days had caught him. We chatted a bit, then continued on our way.
This was not to be our day. Next we had a flat that slowed us down awhile. Then we ate lunch inside an air-conditioned supermarket, and hit the road again. We arrived at the foot of the big climb of the day, Col de Romeyere (3524’) and saw two others of our team, Dan and Laura. They’re from Seattle also and had been doing a longer version of our ride. They took off about four minutes before we did. We finished at almost the same time, amazingly.
Of course, that’s because we had to abandon the climb. Yup, we quit on a hill. There’s a first time for everything! The afternoon heat and the miles just took us out. We only made it about a quarter of the way up. Then I just couldn’t go anymore. Although it was boiling hot, I was shaking with cold. We found out later that is a sign of heat stroke. We called for the sag. Fortunately for us, the cell coverage in Europe is superb. We were never without service. Glenn came and picked us up and drove us over the most beautiful pass I’ve ever seen. The Romeyere has been cut into the side of the rock. There is one tremendous waterfall there. It was a place where the French resistance hid while fighting the Germans. You can see why they were successful. You couldn’t get near them by surprise.
We had a wonderful dinner that evening, swapping stories and looking forward to the next day, a rest day. And boy did we rest!
July 12, Rest Day – Lounged around by the pool most of the day. Perfect. After dinner that night we had an incredible lightning storm. The whole sky would light up instead of mere bolts of light. It hailed and then rained so much that water flowed across the patio several inches deep.