Rest Day Ride
My Tour de France Rest Day rides have become something of a tradition, but after Álvaro had driven 950km yesterday I thought I might be pushing my luck (or even risking my life) asking him to get out of bed to take some pictures of me riding.
So I used a bit of Aussie ingenuity to take a couple of selfies, finding first a fence post and then a rock to balance my camera on. Messieurs Post and Rock were considerably more patient about the process than Álvaro would have been, though granted they probably wouldn’t do as well driving the ŠKODA.
While Annecy is the official Rest Day town, it was under siege with riders, media and fans, meaning the accommodation situation was dire. So I decided to give the ‘Venice of the Alps’ and its famous Bridge of Love a miss (romantic as it would have been visiting with the Don). Instead I found the most conveniently located mountain town, Crest Voland.
We were able to enjoy the fresh alpine air away from the madness, with great riding on our doorstep. Our mountains location also gave us a headstart on our Stage 10 commute, meaning I got to sneak in an extra ride with an early jaunt up Signal de Bisanne, 1939m. This is le life!
With my two rides under my belt and a couple of European style sleep-ins for Álvaro, it was time to get back to Tour-chasing and earn our keep. After the great success of our Stage 9 cobblestone route, we spent a long time planning stage 10 too. Having a good plan is key to getting the best shots.
On arrival at the race course we had to squeeze the car between barricades to get in. A Gendarme spotted us from a distance and started to panic…which is never a good thing when someone has a shotgun at the ready! Álvaro hastily got out of the car, hands in the air, and explained that we were just here to photograph the Tour. After a tense moment, the Gendarme realised we were harmless and took his hand off his gun, letting us past. Phew…
My planned lakeside spot couldn’t be more picturesque if I’d tried. Fir trees behind, mountains in the distance, and the road curving right up against the emerald green water, with a couple in a small boat anchored just off shore to complete the scene. Vive la France!
While we were waiting the publicity caravan came past and belted us (literally!) with a bunch of free stuff. Sharing is caring, so I’ll be including some of my loot in Beardy’s le Tour giveaway for lucky Caravan readers - watch for your chance to get your hands on #beardysbricabrac coming soon!
Dust do it
We skipped the climb of Col de la Croix Fry to get to Montée du Plateau des Glières. As we made our way slowly up the brutally steep road (6km at 11.2% gradient!) I was feeling pretty glad to be driving rather than pedalling. I just wish I had a photo of the look on Álvaro’s face when we hit the gravelled top of the climb, in our sparkling clean ŠKODA we’d just scrubbed on rest day. Clouds of white dust billowed up our wheels, coating the car in seconds.
The summit was packed with spectators and photographers. It was hard not to feel a bit smug as we reached the carpark and discovered our late arrival (after getting the extra lakeside shot) had actually given us the prime getaway spot. The only downside was that our car also became a perfect viewing platform, so I opened all the doors and clambered about with my dusty feet on the seats to get some extra height. Álvaro muttered something darkly in Spanish, which I suspect may not have been “Go right ahead, it’s a small price to pay”
I’ve never photographed Strade Bianche, but the scene of the approaching riders and team cars kicking up dust reminded me of the iconic images from that event. I felt extra sorry for the Tour de France doctors who had a convertible in the race convoy with the top down – it must have been a mess.