Into the Alps we go
Trip Start Jul 23, 2012
60Trip End Feb 03, 2013
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Another lovely day dawned on us in Andorra and we packed up our gear and jumped on the bikes in the direction of the Alps! It was a nice drive out of Andorra, as we were driving in the valley of the mountains it was a bit fresh which was a welcomed change. We had breakfast, croissants, at the top of a lookout over the Valley we had just ridden then continued back into France, once again the boarder crossing was non existent, which we are starting to think is the usual thing for Europe.
We stopped at a little boulongerie and had a yummy panni made fresh, sat outside with a pretty good view for lunch
We stopped off in the town of Beziers, and went for a walk in order to try and find the cathedral in town…we ended up at the town cemetery….lost in translation I suppose
Back on the bikes we aimed for a small town on the map called Bedarieux. We pulled into a super market and got some supplies for dinner and then attempted to find ourselves a campsite for the night, the first time in France that we had trouble finding a camping ground. On our way through town we noticed a hell of a lot of bikers on Harleys and a hell of a lot of campervans. We pulled over in hope that it was a spot for us for the night but unfortunately it was reserved just for campervans and the bikers began to move off in the direction we had just come from. Just as we were about to head off and follow the GPS to campsite another 30km away when a guy came over and gave us a brochure about a camp site just for motorbikes only 3km away! We followed the directions he gave us and hey presto, camp-moto-rendez-vous! Great place. We se up our tent, had a quick dip in the pool and cooked up some dinner while drinking red and white wine from the bar…pretty good end to day really.
We fell asleep with full bellies and all was well until I woke up hearing a faint patter of rain on our tent. Now for the last two weeks we have had NIL rain and 35+ degree-days so our stuff was sprawled everywhere…I raced out and put it under cover and settle back down to sleep
We had a large sleep in and woke to Blue skies, as if nothing had happened the night before. We put the tent in the sun to dry and packed up our gear. We were hoping to get quite close to Chamonix today so the next day we could ride a high col and reach Chamonix/Mont Blanc that afternoon. We had a beautiful morning of riding through a gorge, very tight corners and lots of gravel on the road requiring a great deal of concentration. In one corner while Raelene was in front a fellow biker was on her side of the road, which made for a quick reaction time to dodge the much larger bike. When we got to the other side of the gorge we had some beautiful views of the countryside, the autumn colours are just starting to come out which adds to the beauty.
We stopped in a small town for lunch which was ham and cheese on bread beside a nice river, which obviously floods from time to time as there was a large painted measure on the building near the river which had a few dates and flood levels, back in the 1700's it rose 3m up the building which was a good 50m away from the river
Had a very early wake up call from dogs once again, many barking at each other which was most irritating, however it did get us up early thus we had our earliest start, 8.30am
We aimed for Gorges Du Nan which was that 'dangerous road', it was a nice ride, had a small sun shower so we pulled over and put on our wet weather gear however the rain only lasted a few minutes which was nice. The Gorge was amazing! The road was one lane and carved out of the rock on the side of the mountain, we rode through some tunnels and had some fantastic views of the gorge. The road was only 5miles long but was well worth the detour to get too.
The French resistance in WWII used the gorge and memorials were evident along the road. It was a prefect start to our day.
We were feeling pretty pumped after the ride so we made the decision to jump on the motorway and get as far north as possible aiming for Chamonix.
Up to our usual tricks we took a ticket each (just in case) however only used one to pay…naughty naughty ;-) this time however we nearly got caught, Rhys paid the amount and we were ready to go, together, the gate opened and off we went until Rhys stalled his bike thus me crossing ahead of him. Alarms went off! Rhys said in a panic ‘go go go’ and we raced off, checking our mirrors for the police – none appeared
Did about 100miles in 1.5hours, which was awesome, had our ipods playing so we both listened to our music and enjoyed the ride, at high speed.
Pulled off the motorway to go over Col De I’lseran, one of the highest Col’s in the Alps at 2770m. It again was a beautiful ride with some amazing views. We had phenomenal views of glaciers and the mean looking clouds behind the mountains. We were making great time so pushed onto Chamonix. We passed through a town with Swiss flags everywhere thinking that we must have passed into Switzerland at some point…..still not sure.
However we are sure we crossed over into Italy, had a very short ride over Col du petit St Bernard then we were down and at the entrance of the Mont Blanc tunnel. Had a wait as they were only allowing 1 car in at a time and at a distance of 150m from the previous car. The tunnel opened in 1962 and burrows for 11.6kms right through Mt Blanc, joining Italy and France. We paid our fare x2, no dodging the system this time and we took around 15minutes to get through the tunnel. Unfortunately we were greeted back into France with torrential rain so b-lined it for the closest possible camping ground Chamonix could offer. By the time we reached the camping ground, 10minutes later we were drenched through. Got a quick tour around the camping ground and went to set up our site. Our tarp was our savior! It gave us a good space of cover and we were able to get out of the rain, which was nice. Unfortunately while we were setting up camp my bike had decided to sink into the ground, centre stand and all, and tumbled over. The indicator was the only casualty, as Rhys was moving my bike we saw his start to go as well, I raced over and was able to hold it up preventing it from falling too. We leant both bikes against trees and all was happy again. Rhys braved the rain and rode to get us some pizza for dinner and we had a night listening to the rain once again.