2017 The Sahara

Week 4. Maths and other matters

Maths. It may have come to your attention that my weekly updates are more than a week apart. The truth is that I work 7 days and then have either 2 or 3 days off, therefore what I consider a week is anywhere between 9 to 10 days. Of course that means I have less weeks to prepare than I initially thought. 

Other Matters. Oh where to start? Training was going so well, right up until last Friday. It was my first day shift back at work, three hours in I was stepping off a walkway onto uneven ground when my foot slipped and rolled onto its side as I transferred my full body weight to it. I fell to the floor with searing pain in my ankle and shin. I stayed down for about thirty seconds in absolute agony. I was helped to my feet and hobbled to the workshop where I sat for some time. Next I headed up to the surface and to Boots to buy an ankle support and pain killers. I pretty much sat out the rest of the day. On Saturday morning I got up to go to work but could barely walk and certainly wasn’t going to make it to the train station, let alone a day of work in the tunnels. I went to A&E where I saw two doctors and had an X-ray to determine if I had broken any bones. In the end it turns out I have stretched tendons and torn a few muscles.20200215_144032 (1) The upshot of that is I have been off work for five days and I have been told no running for 6 to 8 weeks (Your weeks not mine). No running until April, giving me less than 4 weeks to finish my training and get the event done on the 8th of May. 

On a good note my Bens Just Giving page has got off to a great start and that is all the motivation I need to get back on it as soon as possible. I will get this done one way or another, so please visit the page and give whatever you can to this very worthy cause. 

Thanks. Ben

 

Week 3. Tri-ing for Eva. (Now aiming for summer 2021)

tri2The best motivation. When you do these things it’s great to have motivation. I now have the best motivation, so I am pleased to announce the launch of my Just Giving page. I have some very dear friends who will appreciate your help with whatever you can give. Read the full story at Bens Just Giving page

Continue reading “Week 3. Tri-ing for Eva. (Now aiming for summer 2021)”

Week 2 (before covid)

I know it’s not been a week but I was late starting the blog.

So this week I have been on nights and it has been crazy busy at work. My job can be quite physical and this week has really taken it out of me. However I have signed up to do the Winchester Try-tri in May. 12 weeks to pull this together, so here’s the update.

Cycling… Well I have upped the duration but not the difficulty setting on the training bike at the gym. With 2 visits I am up to a 30 minute cycle and 5 minute cool down before heading to the running machine. 30 minutes sees me completing about 15km on what would be a flat road. My heart rate stays fairly reasonable and breathing is equally unaffected. But cycling is my best discipline.

Running… straight from the bike I transition to the running machine (Look at me with the tri lingo). Again I’m ok with running, I dont monitor my heart rate and I dont currently look at pace. I just make sure I add 5 minutes each session. It is currently in parallel with the bike riding. Quick story: when I started out I would run then cycle but obviously that’s the wrong way round, so I swapped. The upshot of that was I found myself needing a wee during the run. Thinking back and quite horrifically during my last actual tri I had to stop for a wee, taking cover in the grounds of a posh house to do so. Worryingly it seems I also have to train my bladder! I ran the Basingstoke Park Run this week and it felt ok. It wasnt a great time but it was a non stop 5km.

Swimming….. Oh god, swimming. I have watched a few training videos, well learn to swim videos, and realised I need to slow down and concentrate on my style and breathing. I managed 140m with some front crawl. I have also enquired about some lessons, yep it’s that bad.

Week 1

                            Tri

I dont have a bicycle to use, it’s way too cold to run outdoors and I need access to a pool. A quick search on the web and I am confronted with a plethora of gyms local to me. I get it down to two and pay the first a visit. The Nuffield Health and Fitness Spa has a lovely ring to it. Most importantly its impeccably clean. You already know I’m not a fan of swimming but it’s a necessary evil that I need to deal with. The pool is only twenty meters but that’s ok because it’s a lovely place to be, with constant lane swimming if you want. I’m sold and after a jolly round the rest of the place I pay for the monthly, no contract option.

The plan is to use only common sense and YouTube to train. On my first actual gym session I start with a gentle run. I’m not looking at distance or speed, just making sure I can do 15 minutes with a 5 minute cool down. Then onto the cycle and again 15 minutes and cool off before a shower and home. It’s been ok. Im not terribly worn out and my plan is to add 5 minutes per session to build stamina and then up the difficulty to get some resemblance of race pace.

The first swim was a little less good. I was aiming for 100 meters in any format. It ended up being one length front crawl and four breast stroke. My lungs burned, my body sunk and I hated it. I knew I would and that I will have to work hard to conquer this thorough dislike of swimming. On getting home I watched some videos on how to breath and not sink in the water. I am now considering, actually paying for some lessons.

I also need to find an event to do and follow up on an enquiry I have made to help me stay focused. But more of that later.

2020 Triathlon (2021 now)

What’s a triathlon?

There are 3 disciplines in triathlon, Swimming, cycling and running. Lets take each in turn in relation to my experience.

20190529_070855Running: I have done a few runs in my time but nothing for about 10 years. Previously I have run two half marathons, the last in 1999! That was a bit of a disaster as I had run the same event the year before. Having trained I and completed it without issue. So the following year I decided I didn’t need to train and ran it with no prior exercise. My rule for running is to never stop, so I didn’t. It wasn’t a great time but I managed it. At the finish I couldn’t find any water so I drank a can of Coke straight down. What followed was projectile vomit and three days in bed with shakes and pain I never thought possible.

cropped-20180912_105148.jpgCycling: Well having not learnt my lesson from running, I did complete a huge cycle ride in 2018. The blog is on this site. In short with very little notice and just two test rides I fitted saddle bags to my 10 year old mountain bike and cycled to Italy. Unlike my running it went amazingly well, but it wasn’t a race just a nice ride. I’ve not ridden a road bike since 2006 or any bike since I came back from Italy.

Swimming: CNV00050If you’ve read the above and are thinking the mans a fool, let me confirm that for you. I dislike swimming quite a lot. I will splash around in a pool and go in the sea but swimming is just not me. I did a starter triathlon many years ago and the swim was 400m. I used three styles of swimming, front crawl, breast stroke and doggy paddle. I was the last person out the pool and the next wave of swimmers clapped me, in a thank god he’s finished type way.

So that’s my fitness history and weirdly I have decided to do it all again. I have a good friend who wants to do a triathlon and we agreed to do it last year but it never happened. So its this years little challenge. It works well for me as I have a trip planned later this year that requires a certain level of fitness to deal with the altitude. I will try to do weekly updates as I try to get from old couch sloth to triath-sloth.

Game of Trains

I’d made it and I was a very happy bunny, yes I was behind schedule and yes I was only just over the border to Italy, but I didn’t say I was going to do anything other than cycle to Italy. Time was running out and having made it to Oulx I headed straight to the train station where a very helpful member of staff sorted out my three trains to get me to Bologne the next day. I then looked for a hotel nearby and set off. The hotel was really nice and my bike was stored inside the lobby. I walked up through the little town and found a small bar serving food. It was my first Italian meal and I made sure it was very Italian. Tagliatelle, Tiramisu and some Italian beer. It was late by the time I got back to the hotel and sleep came easy.

I was up early, packed and filled on breakfast goodies. I had promised myself no cycling today. I was truly going to let the train take care of getting me back on track, so to speak.  Then with the bike loaded it was a short walk to the station. I arrived in plenty of time to get some photos and do some video. As I reached to get my phone I pulled out the hotel key! So 20 minutes into the day I was on the bike and pedalling back to the hotel. Looping back to the station I had a short wait before the train to Turin.

Train station at Oulx. (take 2)

On board the bike sat happily against the un-openning doors of the carriage and I sat close by, just in case they should open. We chugged off and I got on with the blog, trying not to be distracted by the countryside whistling past. Within an hour we arrived at Turin and I had an hour wait before my next train to Milan. The station was modern and clean with fine clothing stores and amazing gelato shops. It was here I first noticed the immaculate presentation of Italians. Beautiful people who seem to represent a wonderful lifestyle, it made me wonder how much was real and how much a front. But it didn’t matter they looked great.


Turin to Milan was uneventful and instantly forgettable, as was the quick change at Milan.
Milan to Verona
Onto the third train to Verona. This time I got on and placed the bike across the opposite doorway, which was a mistake. Every station had a platform on that side and as the train was packed there was nothing I could do but stand with it and move a little at every station for those getting on or off. It was a baking hot day on a packed train with all the available windows open it was still very unpleasant and I was pleased after two hours to be at Verona. It was due to be a quick change but this train was late and I’d missed my connection to Bologna. It was just a 30 minute wait and that train was new and air conditioned. I got in the rear carriage and stowed the bike as best I could. With two minutes to departure the guard told me all cycles should be at the front. I rushed to the front with the special cycle store. What followed was a saga of trying to lift the bike vertical into the special rack and attach a clamp to the frame. It wasn’t happening and in the end, because they insisted it stay in the rack, it balanced on the rear wheel completely unsupported and more likely to fall. At later stations 3 other cyclist simply leant their bikes against the racking as I had wanted to. Anyway we got to Bologna without issue and an route I booked the Hotel Europa. It’s cheap cost was not reflected in the quality.

Bonjour…. act2

Before we continue with the trials and tribulations of my journey lets just take a minute to consider the state I was in by this time. 14 days of cycling had taken its toll, I ached and I was sore. The aching resulted in the consumption of pain killers like they were Smarties. My legs were increasingly less helpful in getting up hills and even walking was becoming more difficult. My bum was still sore but less so as the pain receptors decided it was pointless complaining more. I was by now 2 to 3 days behind schedule and there was no way I was going to be able to cycle the whole distance to Tuscany. So I hatched a plan and after consulting with the tourist info it was time to make a decission.

It’s only 16km to the border or there about, but according to the tourist info’ it was a steep road. By now it was 2.30pm and I was going to try for the border. The final section of the ride to Briancon town was a long downhill so I was forced to walk mostly to the start of the road to Italy. Then I got aboard and headed off up the hill which turned to a steep hill and then an impossible hill, we’ll call it a mountain or Mount Genevre to give it its correct name. I had other names for it! It was a torturous climb which was surrounded by sublime views and the always present view of the climb to come. Very quickly I realised this was going to be more of a challenge than I had expected. 16km could take as little as an hour in normal conditions, but these were not normal conditions

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What was clear was the rain clouds were following me and I was sure they were getting closer. It didn’t matter that it was muggy and hot, nor that the rain was coming in, my body was simply at the end of its ability to push harder. I was off the bike more than on it and it mattered not that I had enjoyed the long run down from Col de Lauretet my body soon forgot that and it was screaming out for a rest. It didn’t get one, what it got was endless views of the twisting road and steep inclines.

At one point I walked through some extensive road works and it was a slog. I had to stop and sit on the roadside wall amongst the workers. After a short break I stood to continue the big push up the endless mountain, as I stood the dizziness started and I wobbled before taking a deep breath and concentrating on not falling over I set off. I was exhausted and the thumping in my head was not all down to the high pressure of the stormy weather behind me. I continued to walk on. It was three hours of torture with very little cycling to be had. Eventually more sky filled my view, indicating the top was close by. I stopped by a signpost that had a floral border and wall to sit on. I took more pain killers and filmed my despair. Having turned off the camera I quickly turned round and threw up into the flora. I was ready to turn back, I could simply coast down that immense mountain, get back to Briancon and get a train in the morning. The only things stopping me were the rain clouds and the knowledge gained from tourist info that there were no trains from there to Italy.

I pushed the bike about 200m and then saw a tunnel that offered at least some rest. However, the closer I got the better I could see the ‘no cycles’ sign and it wasn’t a short tunnel, I could just zoom through. The tunnel dipped away between two hills and my path was up those hills. In fairness it was a short climb and shallow enough to ride. A sign told me I was at the top of Mt Genevre. It was downhill all the way to Italy!

The last big climb before the long run down to Italy

I started off coasting along happily. I had some idea that the road sign indicating the border was ahead at the end of a tunnel. I had Google Earthed it. Along the way I had imagined the pictures I would take, bike held aloft and a beaming grin. It was going to happen in the next few minutes. I passed a road check point and set the GoPro to record the whole thing. I wasn’t feeling as well as I wanted the pictures to depict but I could blag that for the record of my achievement. The road was smooth and I whisked along awaiting the tunnel to start. It didn’t, in fact the first sign I had that I was in Italy was a road side cafe with an Italian flag. I stopped and checked the map. Sure enough I was already in Italy. No big fanfare, no pics and no one to celebrate with, but I did have a big grin on my face as I slumped over the handlebars telling the camera that I’d made it. Me, my old bike and little else had got me there. It was a strange sensation of sickness and pride. I cycled on and found a roundabout that had a sign saying Italy. I took a few pics and later edited out the graffiti. Back on the bike I zipped off downhill and coasted down the Italian side of the mountain. It was a beautiful road to ride amongst exquisite scenery. The road levelled out after about ten minutes of effortless coasting. I came to a roundabout that said Oulx was 10km in one direction and in the other direction, about 50m away was a lovely looking hotel. I was really torn, I couldn’t face any more uphills but Oulx had what I needed. I decided to try for Oulx but vowed to come back at the first sign of a difficult hill. The cycle God’s were with me and I hardly pedelled at all, before I knew it I was in the town of Oulx and it did have trains to various parts of Italy. Tomorrow I would take back those lost days.

Bonjour, is this Italy?

It was going to be an early start. There were only about 50km to go to the border, but I also knew that it was such hard work the day before and potentially it was going to get worse. Anyway the tech was packed away, the GoPro mounted on the bike and my phone plugged into both the extra battery pack and headphones. Then off to breakfast and more of that astounding view.

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I was out and on the road by 8am with a quick stop to pick up Orangina and water. I cycled out of La Grave and headed for Briancon the last town before Italy. I must have ridden 2km before my legs gave out on the first part of the hill. The road known as Col de Lautaret was what the cyclists the day before had called the last big mountain, accompanied by the ever increasingly annoying hand gesture. The sun was out and already the mountain was making me sweat. It was during one of the many off the bike pushing moments that I heard the distinctive sound of an aircraft nearby. I was stood at the roadside looking when a C133 Fairchild flew past really close. In moments like this the phone is ripped from my pocket, the two leads disconnected and press the home key twice to get the camera function. the plane was so close and so low framed by the amazing mountains and snow, I quickly centred it and pressed the shutter button. what followed was an infuriating 10 second wait as the timer was left on. panning with the plane it slowly slipped out of sight as the counter ticked away. My moment had gone as had the plane. I plugged the items back in and continued to trudge up the road. But then the noise returned and this time I was ready and got some lovely shots as the pilot flew close, low and slow.

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I had a surprising feeling of guilt as I left the wonderful scenery behind but I hoped for more of the same during the day. But first there was that mountain to climb. Col de Lauteret is 2058m (6750ft) high, although some of it had been completed the day before. The sun was really warm and the mountain was really steep. I managed just a few hundred metres of cycling for every 30 minutes of pushing. I had convinced myself I was climbing the 21bends, but later I saw that it wasn’t, however this route has been used several times in the Tour de france. Surprisingly it does not qualify to be part of the ‘King of the Mountain’ section of the race, probably to shallow a slope!!!! Those riders are legends.

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It really was a twisty little road and it sapped my energy massively. It was about 11.30 that I reached the café at the summit. I had two small bottles of Coke with ice, sat outside in the shade but still very warm. Having had a suitable rest I decided to make a move. I picked up my rucksack and saw that there was water running out the bottom of it. I assumed the hydration bladder must have split and quickly pulled it out for inspection, it was fine. I knew I had no other water in the bag. Lifting it once more the water ran from under it pooling on the floor, nothing for it I let it splash on my finger and tasted it. There’s no easy way to say this, it was sweat, my sweat. I had already used huge amounts of energy and I was nowhere near completing my journey to Briancon. What I did know was that the guy on the racing bike yesterday had said just one more mountain until the run down to Briancon. I was confident I had now climbed that mountain and was looking forward to the downhill.

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Leaving the café I was easily able to ride the very last bit of uphill. Quite literally turning a corner I was met with an obvious gentle downhill that seemed to go on forever. I set off and was quickly out of gears and coasting. It wasn’t long before the wind was rushing at me and drying my clothing which was equally as wet as the rucksack. I was happy to sail past a cyclist who was somehow going slower that me. Next thing I was gaining on a car and a British plated BMW GS1200 motorcycle. The road was twisty and the bike was held up by the car. I couldn’t pedal as I was already going faster than my maximum pedalling speed. I got so close to the bike but in a flash both he and the car pulled away from me. I didn’t care, it would have been fun to overtake but the reality was I pleased just to coast along admiring the views and not even thinking about the next uphill. Why would I think about the next uphill it was nowhere to be seen and I kid you not I coasted for nearly 15minutes.

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(I almost overtook the Biker and I did overtake the cyclist on the road down to Briancon)

Before I knew it I had pretty much coasted to Briancon. I had hatched a plan to get some lunch in the town then visit the tourist advice and see what my options were. I was beaming as I turned down the steep road to Briancon town. Happy to have made it to the town I had read about and considered my potential last staging post before the assault on the border. Lunch was quick and then I went to the Tourist Info, they were closed until 2pm. I went to the train station to see if they could help with options for the rest of the journey. I got nothing from that. I went back to tourist info and sat at a café drinking Orangina whilst I waited for it to open. I had read that there was a train station in a town called Oulx in Italy. I had no clue as to how close Oulx was to the border but it didn’t look far.

To be continued…….

The test

It started early with a breakfast at the hotel before bouncing the bike down the stairs and loading it up in the courtyard. The first 500m would be downhill but I was under no illusion the ride from here would be harder. It was harder but initially just a gentle gradient as the road weaved it’s way between the mountains. Within the hour I was starting to climb steeper slopes and before long the first walk of the day. It was a glorious morning with bright sun still hidden behind the mountains. Looking into the distance I was sure I could see snow. Surely not, we have just had the hottest summer on record and its now the hottest September on record. 20180911_112758 The walking became more frequent as the ascent continued. I was passed by two tractors that pulled into a large layby ahead. I walked past and glanced over at the two drivers who were stood eating breakfast, simultaneously they did the wavy hand thing but without the wavy bit, just a steep incline of the hand and a look up the road. I guessed it meant there was worse to come. However the satnav was going to give me a break or so I thought. Turn right to save 6km. the right turn was so steep I had trouble keeping the front wheel on the ground just pushing it. It was ridiculously steep but a 6km saving was to be had. I pushed and gasped for breath as I walked up the massive incline which showed no sign of giving me a rest anytime soon. A car came whizzing down the hill and the driver indicated that the road may not be the best option. By now I was 20 minutes into the struggle and gasping for breath I stopped to check the map and guzzle some water. On studying the map it appeared the road gave way to a path which eventually became ski slopes. Now I like a challenge but the road was showing no sign of relenting anytime soon, the driver had clearly signalled not to go that way and my arse was not going to accept that kind of terrain for any length of time. Plus I had the option to zoom back down the hill I had just come up. Decision made, about turn and climbing on board the wind rushed through my sweat soaked top as I went back to the road and the extra 6km. No sooner did I get back on that road than the speed fell away and I was back down the gears and pedalling with burning legs and rasping lungs. Rasping maybe but alpine air is wonderfully refreshing. 20180911_120348

(At most, this bit of road is flat, I can only imagine the camera makes it look downhill as there were none that I recall)

The long walk and minimal cycling continued but Briancon was calling me. I stopped for my first Orangina of the day, at a little roadside bar. It had a cycling theme and a poster showed a zig zag mountain road that I had knowledge of. Lautaret, or the 21 bends as it is known to the riders of the Tour de France. Having huffed and puffed my way to lunchtime I was in awe of those riders who do any kind of racing, let alone power up what looked like a massive mountain road with its relentless bends and climbs. Lunch was yet another salad with trail mix of nuts and fizzy drink, all available at Aldi in the small village of Le Bourg d Oisans and eaten on the picnic table at the front of the store.

Returning to the road I once again tried to use the cycle route option, but having been led along a gravel trail for about a mile only to find it got smaller and smaller, eventually becoming a split driveway to two houses, I had to turn round and return to the village, picking up the D1091 again. What was becoming apparent was that the day was going faster than I was. I always knew the journey to Briancon was going to be a push. The initial distance was about 90km but the mountains and steep inclines were eating into the hours of the day. I went through my first alpine tunnel and came out the other side to see a hydro electric dam at Le Freney-dOisans. I stopped to take pictures and get my breath when a cyclist came past with a chirpy Bonjour. I pedalled off slowly and shortly caught up the guy who was waiting for the other cyclist he was with. He pointed out that he knew a route that was much better for cyclists as it was away from the D1091 and I was welcome to join them. 20180911_16003520180911_160308

I agreed and set off behind the guy who’s friend had gone past us as we chatted. He was on a proper race bike but I had glimpsed that the female was on a hybrid bike so I hoped I could keep up. The road had been hastily built after a huge landslide had closed the main road a few years ago. It was now abandoned as the main road was open again. It was decaying and the guy warned me that there were sharp stones to avoid. When we regrouped I saw that the female was middle aged and clearly very fit and active. I cycled along trying to keep up with the guy assuming it was father daughter as he was clearly older than me and she younger. The road was lovely and flowing mostly downhill and offering great views of the lake and waterfalls. There was a slight hill and then it levelled out. We stopped to wait for the lady to catch up. We started chatting as the guy stated “We should wait here for my wife”! It turns out they cycle most days and go quite some distance. I didn’t want to keep them so I was happy to part company and do the last bit at a slower pace.

I was glad we parted company as there was a huge climb to return to the main road and then more uphill. I cycled on but was becoming more aware that time was running out, my legs were burning hot from exertion. It was mid to late afternoon and the heat was, as usual, oppressive. There was only about 20km to go to Briancon but I was feeling tired, hot and I ached. It was time to check for a hotel and then pace the rest of the afternoon to reach that and relax. What happened next was probably the best thing so far. I found a hotel that was only 1km from me at the little village of ‘La Grave’ and the price was good. My body was telling me it was time to have an early night at what looked like a nice place. I knew the scenery was stunning in this area, after all I had been living it all day. At the time of booking the hotel I was in a shaded area between two near vertical rock faces in a little village that offered cheap lodging, but I had chosen my hotel and paid for it. I got back on the bike for the last bit. As I set of I saw the married couple cycling back the other way, still looking fresh faced as I was stood up pedalling in the lowest gear to climb the little rise towards the hotel. They waved cheerily and I managed a smile back. As the steep rocks cleared the view of the hotel was a welcome sight. As was the view from the hotel.20180911_202837120180911_1854221

I was truly in awe of the beauty. This was not going to be an early night as I just couldn’t steal myself away from the views. After locking the bike away in the garage, putting all the tech on charge, showering and changing it was time to hit the restaurant. The food was amazing and washed down with red wine the evening was pure bliss. Other guests at the hotel were adventure cyclists who used the hotel as a base for some serious mountain bike riding. There were a lot of expensive downhill bikes ridden by rugged outdoorsy types. I was very much the only touring cyclist on an inadequate bike. Having said that, yes, the bike was old and had less gears than when we set off. Yes, it was too small for me from the day I purchased it. Yes, it was badly loaded with cheap luggage and a cheap rack. Yes, I was ill prepared and struggling in the mountains but my weary legs and sore bum had pedalled this heavy inadequate bike to the French Alps and I was going to have another day of it tomorrow. Sleep came easy that night.

 

Pushing onto Grenoble

Leaving the chateau I was well aware that the next big town would be Grenoble. To me it signified the end of travelling south through France and the start of heading East towards Italy, the only obstacle being the French Alps! Within minutes of leaving it was obvious the sat nav was struggling as I headed through a small village and up a huge hill along a twisty lane that deteriorated to a gravel track. I held out hope as I could see tarmac at the top of the very steep hill. It was a gruelling push for so early in the day that was not rewarded in any way. The tarmac was in fact another shade of gravel, that in turn headed higher up the hill to the next crest where it turned into an empty field with a muddy track across it. I had wasted yet more time and over the last 10 days all those little diversions, mistakes and hold ups had added up to leave me quite a way behind where I had expected to be. In hindsight expecting to do 100km a day was very optimistic and was probably more due to the time restrictions and deadlines than any real understanding of what was possible for a new touring cyclist.20180919_1822271019273033932507763.jpg

I wasn’t a happy bunny, trudging across the field to the nearest road and resetting the satnav for road only. Off I went headed for Grenoble just 80km away. It was an all day cycle mainly on roads and the words of the landlord of the chateau running through my mind “It’s going to be between 25 and 30 degrees today”. It certainly was and I was glad to find a little village with an bakery to top up on water, salad and cake.20180910_132856

Back on the bike and I picked up the river Selene towards Grenoble. It was a great path full of very fit cyclists who zoomed past me at every given opportunity, yeah but how far had they come? The river was picturesque and led almost all the way to the town itself.20180910_140520

Finally I came to Grenoble, very aware that I was now running behind time and I really wanted to push on. Other than walking through the city centre and stopping at almost every cold drink shop and a chemist for pain killers. (Honestly Declan Donnelly has nothing on me for taking pain killers) I tried not to be taken in by the town so I could get out the other side and get started towards my next goal, Briancon.20180910_161338

It was clear that the journey to Briancon would be more mountainous and I wanted to get as far into that leg as I could in the hope of crossing into Italy within two days. However, what actually happened was that I got about 5km out of Grenoble and the hotels became less frequent so I had to stop and be satisfied that I had done enough to give me a good start in the morning. As per usual the hotel was at the top of a steep hill and I didn’t even get any photographs of it. It was a nice big character house but really it was just a place to sleep. The restaurant was closed, but luckily the superstore at the bottom of the hill was open. I had another salad and tub of fruit. I was shattered and fell asleep by 9pm. Tomorrow would be the test!

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