July 24, 2013

Vive la France, Alpe d'Huez

Alpe d'Huez
After leaving Briancon we had another long day of driving (are you seeing the trend here?) We drove the gorgeous route over the mountains--the same one that the guys were going to ride that day. It really was spectacular. All of my pictures were taken while driving down the winding road, so none of them are that great. But trust me, it was spectacular.

Rich and Sandy

Kurt and Lisa

After an hour or two we dropped off the guys at the starting point for their big climb. Then Lisa and Sandy got into the van and I hopped into my trusty Peugeot. That's when the real fun started. Earlier in the trip we'd run into trouble trusting the Garmin, as it wanted to lead us through little towns and villages--the shortest distance, but not the fastest route. Given that I was driving a stick shift for the first time in 10 years I was hoping to stay on freeways. Lisa had an old fashioned paper map and knew how to use it. And I should have listened to her, not the Garmin. Because, long story short, we got lost. And lost again. And ended up driving a whole lot of extra miles through the mountains. But I was proud of my driving skills...until Alp d'Huez. Seriously, I have PTSD just thinking about it. Alp d'Huez is a mountain town that has been a finishing spot for the Tour on multiple occasions. 

The 21 switchbacks

Add all the bikers, the huge trucks and me in a stick shift...it was not pretty. I stalled twice, and more than a little annoyed the guy in the BMW behind me. But we made it. And Lisa graciously forgave me for getting us lost. 

Ryan had a really great ride that day, over some incredibly hard climbs.  And being there made it way more fun to watch this year's Tour as they climbed Alp d'Huez twice!

July 23, 2013

Vive la France!

Ryan and his buddies have been scheming for years now how to pull off a Cycling trip...oh, I mean Couples Trip in France. Well, somehow they pulled it off and we spent 10 days with our friends the Ogdens and the Morris' exploring France's small towns and big mountains. It was great. I didn't plan a thing and just showed up. I decided that if Ryan was going to spend hours a day on his bike, I should try to work off all my croissants by running. And really, if my dad taught me anything it's that the best way to see a city is to run it. I got lost pretty much every run, because as we found out even more acutely on this trip, my sense of direction is horrible. But thankfully, the French were kind to me and guided me back home every time.

St. Remy de Provence

After flying into Paris, Ryan and I flew to Marseilles, drove to Aix en Provence for lunch and settled into St. Remy de Provence. I absolutely love this little town. We stayed there when I was 16, and it was just as charming as I remembered. There is one main street that forms a ring around the pedestrian city. Our hotel was right on the main ring, but had quiet gardens, sculptures and even a hedge maze! The next morning I went on a run around the outskirts of town, past the mental hospital where Vincent Van Gough lived. 


The next day we met up with the rest of the crew in Bedoin, a tiny village at the base of Mount Ventoux. Our hotel was surreal. It truly felt like a summer camp. The rooms had these tiny little beds, and there were daily activities you could participate in. The crazy thing was all of the participants were senior citizens! They'd eat breakfast in the dining room, go on a bike ride during the day, and then live it up at night. Karaoke+Dance party till the wee hours. It was bizarre-o.

The girls and I surprised the boys at the top of Ventoux. It was knock you over windy and COLD. I was glad to be in the car instead of on a bike. 

Ventoux is much prettier below the treeline. The "moonscape" is a little eerie. 

We made the long, windy drive to Briancon the next morning via back roads, over hills, vineyards and villages. We got there late in the afternoon and I went on a run through town, where I spent more time trying to find the trail than actually on the trail. I then caught up with Lisa and Sandy in the old village. Super cool. It was built into the side of a mountaintop for protection. Everything was crazy steep. We had a fun dinner of traditional food found in the Alps--fondue, tartiflette, creme brulee. Lots of cheese, lots of cream. Delicious.