French Alps, Day 4

We had a good nights sleep knowing we didn’t have a big days cycle ahead, although still pretty stiff climbing out of bed and hobbling down the stairs. Today was a rest day but not quite a rest day in the true sense of the word. For instance a rest day on the Tour de France still involves longish cycles, well I say longish for us mere mortals. To be fair every day on this trip is optional, so we do have a choice, to do or not to do things. Anyway I digress so those that choose to get up early and go for a run, did so. The guys had mapped out a 2.5 km route which I had done the day before as a little brick session off the bike, so knew the route. We decided not to go running with the early group as they were going for a longer run and we would head off a little later. Think they banged out over 20 km. Mike, V and myself decided we would do 2 laps of the 2.5 km loop. Well, actually Mike did 4 laps to get 10 km in. This wasn’t the flattest of runs, the last km (roughly) was pretty much up hill home so a hard slog.

I decided that because I did not do as much as the others on the previous day I should get out on the bike. Even though a few of the others also planned on doing this with Neil, they were going to head up Col de Familiar, as it got coined, thanks to me. So I did not really fancy doing it a third time…so Dom, my partner in crime, was up for a poodle. We did not know where we were heading and would just see where the day would take us.

A bunch of others were going to head to the closest lake for a swim. If you have not picked this up already, most of us are, or in my case were triathletes. So as you are beginning to see, not so much of a rest day. When it came to the choice of chilling, soaking in the sun or getting in some training. Training usually did prevail, then again this was a training camp and most people were training for something.

Dom and I geared up and headed off turned right out of the château as neither of us had been that way, we turned straight into a hill climb for 2-3 km, probably the only significant climbing we did on our 40 km outing on the bike. Two minutes into the climb a van comes up beside us with someone hanging out the van window shouting allez, allez…I honestly thought it was a local until they passed us and realized it was Ryan cheering us on, he was with the swim crew. After some very remote scenery, stunning views with the Alps as a backdrop we stopped for a coffee at a local bar / restaurant, had an awesome cappuccino well that’s what I thought I had ordered, they used a kind of whipped cream instead of milk. The owner also kept a chameleon in the back, which kept giving Dom a beady eye from his fish tank, only in Montferrat, it seams! Chameleons in fish tanks, what next.

After our tasty coffee we then realized that we were close to the only lake in the area Lac de Paladru so assumed that is were the others had headed for a swim session, on leaving the café Dom had an interesting conversation with the locals outside the cafe, who were slightly inebriated, about how cycling was bad for your testicales and having children, so we rode out of Montferrat having a good chuckle to ourselves as Dom translated the conversation for me. We headed for the lake looking for the swim crew. I have to say the lake was very picturesque, a deep turquoise colour surrounded by green rolling hills, the picture below does not really give it justice. We stopped for a bite to eat and to take in the surroundings as we couldn’t seem to find the others. As we headed round the far side of the lake Graeme pulled out of a parking lot in the van with the others, so miraculously we did end up finding them, it was great timing actually, if we had not stopped we wouldn’t have seen them.

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We carried on cycling and as they came past us Alan handed us two Jaffa cakes through the window…very grand tour like. We then made our way home following the route we had come out on. Our final decent which was a nice relief as we both knew we would finish on a downhill. The only downhill finish of the trip potentially. The roads were pretty wet so it looked like we had just missed a downpour which was also pretty lucky.

Will and Kelly had driven to ride up another col…Well known Col de La Croix de Fer a pretty nasty climb it was in our agenda but think it was decided against. It’s climb being over 25 so a good slog. Kelly and Will came back freezing having to stop twice to try and warm themselves up enough before continuing the decent, they both agreed it was not a very present experience.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty relaxed as we had super and with a few glasses of wine helping with that relaxing, listening to the race briefing for tomorrow’s adventure.

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