Tuesday 24 October 2017

Autumn on the Tour de France roads - 2nd Stage: Col du Telegraphe and Col du Galibier

Early this morning, breakfast is waiting for us at 7.30am. The hotel manager has given us the chance to have breakfast at 7.30 am, unusual here, generally breakfast is available in the hotels from 8 am this however for travel with bicycle is a problem, it means that you can not be ready before the 9.00 am to start.

It is also true in some cases going too early, as it is today, can be a problem when the temperatures in the morning as in the mountains are very stiff. In fact, looking out the brining landscape and we notice that there are -6 degrees.

The hotel manager advises us to wait 9am to leave, anyway we still try to anticipate, but the flat tyre of my trailer takes time to fix it therefore before 9am we can not get off.

We are doing the best to cover ourself as much as we can, I can not understand why this picture has aroused so much hilarity in Lorenzo ... Perhaps for his Sicilian soul, more inclined to the warm weather than the cold one or for his initial proposal to go to the sea side by me obviously unexpected? Maybe why he was so dressed that he could not even move? Do not I seem perfectly comfortable? A slight downhill 41 km is waiting for us up to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne where the ascent to the Col du Telegraphe is starting. Actually downhill with negative temperatures is not really the best, but to me basically it does not mind when you go skiing is much worse.
The first km are almost all in the shade, then a little sun, but in small doses.
During the descent to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne we notice the Barrière de l'Esseillon (a series of five fortifications built in the nineteenth century on a rocky spur that barred the high Arc valley, to protect the Piedmont from a possible French invasion).

We stop to take pictures of the very narrow Arc Valley you can also see the suspended bridge, called Pont du Diable.

On this bridge there are several legends, one of which says that the bridge builder, unable to finish the work in time, made a deal with the devil in exchange for the soul of the first passer. The builder then made pass a goat first ... no comment!

At noon the temperature begins to become pleasant when we begin the uphill of the Col du Telegraphe. We take a lot of clothes off, we go to a boulangerie for Pain au Raisin and other sweets (considering the dinner of the Evening before which can not be considered exactly food for cyclists). Finally the body temperature resumes.

It was good that we stopped to buy food because from here onward nothing ...

French billboard is always very interesting and richer than the Italian one, it takes always curiosity and interest and space for a photograph.

Having reached the Col di Telegraphe we take photos together with two Slovak boys who work in Italy and speak very good Italian, but the eye is always at the clock, today is long day.

After Telegraphe the road goes down to Valloire, we decide to stop here for lunch break.

Valloire is nice, but maybe for the season, it looks like a ghost town, you can not find an open shop to buy food. We do not talk about the only open restaurant, the request to have a sandwich has the same effect as the view of a Martian .... Note that the bread was exposed on a chopping board beside the counter. We take a cup of coffee and two soft drinks and we go away upset. in each of these occasions Lorenzo continues to repeat the chorus of a song by De Gregori "Viva L'Italia", I have to give him reason, we can appreciate the value of Italian friendliness, hospitality and food only when we are abroad. Taking again the uphill just after Valloire again we meet a restaurant, even this one of Savoyard specialty but we can not stop for a Fondue Savoyard or Raclette.

I get in and I try to ask for a sandwich, hospitality can be even worse than the first restaurant. Unhappy, at first he tells me that it is not possible, then he tells me that I have to wait. While waiting he looks annoyed by my presence, at the end he also annoy me with this unpleasant behavior and I ask for information ... I am told that there is to wait another ten minutes, I decide to leave I can not leave Lorenzo out to wait for me further, the ascent is long, the time is short.

As soon as the anger for the rudeness and poor hospitality of the restaurateur ends, Lorenzo does not miss the chance to sing again the de Gregori chorus "Viva L'Italia".

Moral of the fairy tale we went up to Col Du Galibier without food, we still have a piece of stuffed sandwich taken to Susa yesterday morning. There is also a lack of culture in the fountains, and not because of the lack of water, so we also have difficulty finding the water (the only fountain in Valloire on all 36 km of climb).

I wonder it is a Tour the France climb, one of the most famous in the world, is it possible that it can not be equipped to offer suitable food for cyclists and fountains? On the other hand, the Porche and Ferrari cars with a German license plate running at full speed do not miss.

The valley leading us to the top of the Galibier is truly impressive and majestic as well as very long. We stop several times along the way to take photographs and to take breath. We also have the misadventure of meeting a bull wandering in absolute freedom on the road. Lorenzo was about to be shot.

Along the way it is almost impossible, if not in the last few kilometers, to look at the summit of the hill.

The hill can only be seen when it comes to the gallery of the Galibier (only for cars passing). From here you think you have finished but a toughest ladder waiting for the last mile.

The arrival on the summit is incredible satisfaction, and the view repay you of all the hard effort. Ritual photos and immediately dressing, because it is cold and expect a very fast descent to Monetier-le-Bains, where we have our booked hotel.

Dinner can be even more disappointing than the evening before. The hotel has no menu choice, but with a fixed menu, we have 3 ravioli with anchovy sauce as strater and a chicken and vegetables as main course with lots of pepper and chilli pepper ... just what it good for cyclist in the relationship with the saddle ... the desert was not bad... but small.

Tomorrow we see what awaits us, surely the food of these places does not help. We are in the room and we are more hungry than before.

The Video

The Route

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