“Grab your helmet and hurry up!” These the words that woke me from a much needed sleep. An hour later I found myself hanging onto metal railings, high above Saint-Jean-De-Maurienne, where Le Tour de France had made its depart earlier that morning. Sydney riding buddy, Yvoine McCort, who grew up in the area looked more at home the higher we went. I loved every minute of the experience and was glad I didn’t wear thongs.
A two hour up (on bikes this time) led to mountainous views and a quick geography lesson on the French Alps. The fun technical descent back to our base made me glad for every bit of skill I’d built in years of riding back at home – big, fat river stones, tight turns, occasional slides through the mud, a gradient that had my seat bumping into my stomach (a feeling that is becoming somewhat familiar on this trip) and quick interludes through small villages. I returned home happy, relaxed and ready for more cheese.
The route from Saint-Jean to our next destination began with the Col de Telegraphe and the Col de Galibier – two iconic climbs that feature some years in testing stages of Le Tour. I pumped my tyres up hard and enjoyed the rhythm of the road as Gaye Camm followed two hours later in the chase vehicle. There was snow on both sides of the road as I reached the final summit. Even better was the pecan tart waiting patiently inside the car.
The Queyras National Park offers mountain bike epics in every direction. The first ride began and ended in less than an hour and a half. Apparently it takes more than a pecan tart to recharge the body after a week of climbing. On a brighter note, literally, sunsets after 9.30 make for beautiful days on the hills.
After a good sleep and some more time looking at local trail maps the next journey was decided. A maze of well-signed bike tracks and walking trails signal the number of adventures on offer. Stunning doesn’t quite cut it, but these images give a little taste. We spied Mimi Guillot, Jacky Boisset and the rest of the Thule Adventure Racing Team out training at the same time and caught up with them for dinner and laughter at the end of another amazing day in the Alpes. Wishing you were here and hope you get to experience something similar one day too.
Photos: Gaye Camm, Yvoine McCort, Kath Bicknell.