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Flanders To The Alps: Notes On A Tour (Part 2)

Day 7 – Montriond and Morzine (18km)

Snooze.

Into Morzine for a coffee.

Snooze.

Up to the lake for a swim.

Snooze.

Day 8 – Col de Joux Plane (55km)

Over the Joux Plane to meet Nigel for coffee. Lunch at Col de Ranfolly. The Reilly looks a little out of place surrounded by full sussers.

Day 9 – Four Cols (106km)

Out early whilst it’s cool. First up (literally) Col de Corbier. Coffee at the top. Sweet descent through hairpins and fast straights. Damn, I want to ride up these. Up a different valley that feels properly Alpine and quite a bit Swiss, all pine trees and meadows and wooden chalets. Through Châlet to the Pas de Morgins, the Swiss border, freewheel a couple of k’s into Switzerland before turning back for an early lunch in Châlet.

Up a dead end valley, on a road bike at least, to the base of Col de Bassachaux, a huge car park full of 4x4s, VW vans and armour clad downhillers. I feel a little out of place. I start the climb through tight switchbacks catching snippets of MTB’ers’ conversations as they pass overhead on the chairlift. Just below in the trees I can hear the BRRRPPP of gnarly tyres on the trails. From one corner I glance back at the cars and queues below to see someone do a backflip off a huge ramp. Three corners later the road surface worsens and steepens, I’m starting to see the benefit of this uplift malarky. At the top I can see Montriond below but am on the wrong bike to descend to Les Lindarets to pick up the road home.

Head back the way I’ve come and back over Col de Corbier. Ice cream at the top. Accordian music is still playing on the cafe stereo.

Day 10 – Col de la Joux Verte (28km)

Lunchtime ride over the Joux Verte before the storm rolls in. From the top section I can see the zigzag of the path down from Col de Bassachaux.

All evening thunder rumbles along the valley in waves. Read a book. Listen to podcasts.

Day 11 – Les Alpes du Leman (117km)

Descend the valley as far as the gorge and turn into the mountains that border Lake Geneva – les Alpes du Léman. Similar in height and feel to the Jura the other side of the lake. Short gentle climbs through forest to plateaus and meadows. Coffee and pastry in Habere-Poche and chat to some English riders settled here. One more climb then lunch in Megevette. Slow grind home in the afternoon heat from Taninges to Les Gets, bloody hell that back road is steeper than I remember. Emergency ice tea needed at the petrol station before the descent to Morzine. More storms in the evening.

Day 12 – Homebound (82km)

Head down the valley, it’s far easier (and way faster) in this direction. Into Thonon and then look for a nicer way around the lake. Nicer being relative, it’s still functional rather than pretty. Geneva airport is not easy to find a way into by bike, I end up riding through a couple of car parks, a section of service road, and then give up and push bike through the airport shopping mall above the train station. Twenty euros for a bike box from Swissport baggage and out with the tools.

Out of the plane window I look down on Hastings, Fairlight, Romney Marsh and all the way to Dover, bringing the trip full circle.

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