I’m currently outside the office d’tourisme in Bourg d’Oisans, at the foot of the legendary, alp d’huez, nicking their wi-fi and checking up on things – like ya do.
It’s too sunny and my battery too low and a full load of excuses to tell, but yesterday’s ride was one ofo the most exhilarating of the trip – the beginning of the day was rainy, and I had taken a hotel room – first of the bicycling tour, since it was so rainy the night before and there wasn’t a campsite in sight, in the idea of ditching in the dark, in the rain wasn’t very appealing – and I needed a recharge of spirits, so I took the night and rolled around in my underwear watching movies dubbed in French – Batman and Robin, Memories of a Geisha and, surprising, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance – one of my all time favorite movies.
I left the dry, warm hotel room in the rain and started a slow ascent into the highlands again. The rain kept starting and stopping and starting and stopping and I kept changing clothes to match the weather. It got a little absurd and I shook my fist at the sky, oh, once or twice. As dinner time rolled around, I had done about 3 or 4 mountain passes and was a little tired.
Too tired to really order correctly at the small restaurant in Mens and I made a giant ass of myself doing just that. I had to order at least 15 Euro of food to use my credit card, so I had dessert and coffee – a BIG coffee and just barely made it over the limit.
I got out of the restaurant at around 21:30. It wasn’t raining anymore and I wasn’t tired anymore, so I just decided to ride a bit longer. It kept not being rainy, so I just kept riding. One more mountain pass, and then another. I had lights, and when a car came, I just waited on the side of the road.
Then, the moon came out – a full moon! and I still felt great, so I just kept going. There’s a 1700 km pass in my way, until Bourg d’Oisans. I thought I could do it. I turned off my headlight, since the moonlight was so great.
The temperature was around 10 degrees – it was easier and warmer to cycle in the night than to freeze in my tent – my bag is a summer bag and isn’t rated anywhere near these conditions.
At around 2:00am, I had made it up the pass and the weather creeped in as well.
A frigid descent down, but I made it into, Bourg d’Oisans! I found a parking lot and ditched near it, wearing everything I had to sleep – using my arm warmers as socks to… to boot.
I woke up to a more temperate climate and a beautiful few of the Alps all around me.
And, here I am. Today, I just did town, the open air market and had lunch and coffee. Tomorrow, I’m doing a 170km loop around the area, with I think three mountain passes? One’s around 2300 meters I think and another one is l’alp d’huez, with 21 hairpin turns up to 1800km.
One day, I’ll have to extrapolate yesterday night’s adventure into an entire story, but sometimes being in the moment is all you get I guess. Taking on a mountain pass during a full moon in the middle of August in France is sort of a once in a lifetime experience that I can’t really fully express. It also has to do with The Cult of the Bike – *wanting* to that in the first place. Touring is something you can truly set your limits to your tastes. In France, you can cycle 60km a day, following the Loire river and it’s very comfortable, but I just can’t do comfortable for too long, I guess.
I’ll talk to everyone soon, I’m sure,