Their story, in their words….
We embarked on our long awaited expedition, late on a Sunday night and full of eagerness and expectation. Needless to say that eagerness kept us awake all the way through to the monday morning where we finally arrived in Paris, and had the pleasure of experiencing a fresh croissant as a reward for the demanding journey there. Another 10 hours later and we were knocking on the door of our accomodation to be and were greeted with open arms and a plate full of pasta, to our delight. That same evening we assembled our bikes and prepared for what was to be the ‘ride of our lifetime’.
Morning came in the blink of an eye, with a screech of our host’s 1 year old daughter, however the sun was shining and we knew this was the day that mattered. As we maneuvered through the busy streets of Grenoble, anxious not to miss our early bus to Bourg D’Oisans, it appeared it might not be our day as we were half a minute late and watched it drive off into the distance. In spite of this mishap, we persevered and through witty negotiations we managed to get tickets to the next bus and get all of our bikes on the coach without too much hassle. Despite worrying about the state of our bikes as they endured heavy turning from the hurried bus driver, we were greeted with incredible views from both sides of windows as huge mountains rested gracefully for miles and miles, further raising our anticipation for our long awaited ride.
As we drew into Bourg we all felt a rush of excitement as we realised the much anticipated climb was almost upon us. Without much further ado we found our way to the base of the climb and gazed up in awe of the task we were about to undertake. After a minute of amazement we began, on the unforgiving 11% section. After two turns we had a brief stop and mentally reassessed what amount of energy the next 19 turns would take.
After a few further turns it became evident that Lucien was going quite a bit faster than Ollie and Jahvarn, so for the enjoyment of everyone we decided that Ollie and Jahvarn would stay together and that Lucien would go on ahead.
Ollie and Jahvarn made friends with another young rider who was going at the same pace as them, and stopped to take some lovely pictures on the way.
Meanwhile Lucien went straight up not stopping again and actually went too far and headed most of the way up to a ski lift by accident. It was a happy accident though, as having realised his mistake Lucien had the opportunity to take these pictures. After coming back down to the town at the finish line he tucked into a much needed crepe in the town.
Jahvarn, Ollie and their new-found friend arrived about 1 hour after Lucien due to a slower pace and multiple stops on the way up and took some pictures of their own at the top.
After Ollie and Jahvarn had refuelled with an omelette each, we started the descent together. On the way down we stopped once to take a few pictures and reached a top speed of 64 km/h.
We then got on to the coach and headed back to Grenoble where we were staying.
On the second day we had a less strenuous (and a much flatter!) ride around Grenoble on a very nice smooth cycle path.
On the last day we got our bikes packed back up into our bike boxes and had a brief look around Grenoble before getting the coach to Paris at 10pm. We arrived in Paris just after 5 am, and due to a miscommunication with the coach driver got off at the wrong stop in Paris. This was fine though as we had over 3 hours before the coach to London, and allowed us to experience Paris’ double decker trains as the sun rose to get to the right coach station.
We got on the coach to London at the correct time, and arrived in London exhausted but happy with a successful trip!
Individual thoughts on the trip:
Lucien: In terms of how everything worked out on the trip, I think that nearly everything went to plan, and what few things didn’t weren’t major. Our warmshowers hosts were really nice and I will definitely use warmshowers again in the future. The 20 hour coach ride each way was the only down-side of the trip but was necessary to keep costs down. The climb itself was actually easier than I expected and I really enjoyed pushing myself to the max on the way up.
Ollie: I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, throughout every challenge, from navigating the language barrier to climbing the mountain. Valuable lessons were learnt and it was an amazing experience.
Jahvarn: I also found the 20 hour coach ride as one of the down sides. Alongside doing the climb in such high temperatures. However I believe it was all worth it because the experience as a whole is something I’ll never forget. From our wonderful mountain views around every corner. To our caring host, that treated us like family.