Day 68, Beaune, 5.728 km
Change of pace since the last article: I’ve spent more time eating and drinking than riding my bike during the past week. Some memorable moments anyway: part of journey at night, the 4 passes of the Chartreuse massif, the departure from La Féclaz under the storm, or the “Chemin des Grands Crus”, I still have some material to tell you a little story…
Lyon – Grenoble: Team-Stage, with Sandrine as my partner. Leaving the city is a bit complicated, a lot of big roads, cars, factories, eastern Lyon is apparently not known for its bucolic landscapes… We pass Bourgoin and things improve a little: it is more hilly, we go through pretty little villages, in orchards, and we end up with a nice climb to arrive at Lake Paladru. The original plan was to take a swim in the water but most of the shores are private and the public beaches are not on our way… Pause by the lake anyway before heading back to Grenoble. We find the Isère and its pretty cycle path for the last kilometers before arriving. The day is starting to get long (130 km in total) and the night is coming. Fortunately, Eve and Le B (who prefers to remain anonymous, so we will not reveal his real name) welcome us with a cold beer and a gigantic dish of ravioles… Everything is perfect! The following day, rest in Grenoble (still with a hike to climb to the top of the Bastille) to prepare for the next stage.
Grenoble – La Féclaz: The stage of the famous Quadricol (made up word that could mean “the 4 passes”). The team has welcomed a new member, Le B, who decided to test Jay’s resistance on the roads of the Chartreuse massif. Like every Friday for the last 20 years, the outfit is the « Pull-Cravate » (Sweater-Tie, especially good for cycling). As she does not have her tie with her, Sandrine prefers to go around the valley and join us in Chambéry. Early start, and after 5 kilometers of flat ride we immediately start: Col de Porte (long but not too hard, we can still see the traces of the passage of the Tour de France on the road), superb descent to Saint Pierre de Chartreuse , Col du Cucheron (short but intense), we descend and we go up via the Col du Granier (long and warm) before descending on the mountainside towards Chambéry. We find Sandrine there for a short lunch break before embarking on the last difficulty of the day: the climb to La Féclaz via the Col de Plainpalais (long and hard). Almost 3,000 m of elevation gain in total, at least 22 liters of sweat (a sweater and a tie keeps you warm!). But also superb landscapes and a memorable attack, what am I saying, The Attack, from Le B in the Pass du Granier! A cold beer, a hot shower and a huge tartiflette on arrival quickly gets everyone back on their feet!
La Féclaz – Beaune: Drinks and cheese is the theme for the birthday weekend (when raclette follows tartiflette and Beaufort and Comté are brought in by the kilos), and now it’s time to get back on the bike. It’s stormy on Sunday, but at least I’ll be able to test the new rain gear that I bought in Lyon: overshoes and Gore-Tex. In the end it only rains for 20 minutes and I get everything off pretty quickly because it’s not that cold but at least I’m not too wet. The descent into the Bauges massif is superb, and after a nasty climb I arrive at Fanny and Adrien’s, whom I haven’t seen for almost 10 years. I should go around Europe more often to see everyone again… It’s cool the next day but no rain. I am overlooked by the Highway of the Titans from the top of its viaducts, it is very impressive. I then arrive in Nantua, on the edge of a pretty small lake, before heading back down to the Ain valley. A final climb later, I descend under the sun towards Burgundy.
After a quiet night in the forest, I set off again. It is not raining. Then when I take off the jacket it starts to rain. And when I put it back it stops. But not much to complain about. I decide to take a little detour to join a cycle path that runs along the Saône. It looks like a good idea at the start. Then the “cycle path” turns into a mixture of earth, mud and pebbles all the way until Chalon-sur-Saône. Great. The city itself is not very pretty so I don’t stay too long. I then follow the Canal du Centre until Chagny (with a thought for Marine and Bruno when I see all the locks) and take the Grands Crus route to reach Beaune: Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Volnay and Pommard. A quick tour by the Domaine (vineyard run by my uncle) to check if the harvest was done properly, a visit to Bon-Papa’s grave and then on to Beaune to my Grandmother! After friends, now family! Next steps: Besançon then Barr before a short week’s break!