Saturday 28 October 2017

Autumn on the Tour de France roads - 3rd Stage: Col de l'Izoard and Col du Montgenevre

We thought and discussed last night largely whether to end the tour either with the Agnello Pass or with the Montgenèvre Pass, we were very perplexed about the Agnello Pass, the awakening made us all clearer. A bit 'of rain, but especially the night white stomach problems have made the decision easier.

The last assuption befor departing is, on top of Izoard we decide. After breakfast our donkeys are waiting for us, in fact, yesterday evening returning to the room, after dinner, we did not notice a particular, but this morning we immediately realize it. The hotel rooms are marked by animals and not by numbers and try to guess what is the symbol on our room? "2 Donkeys!" The beats and laughter come natural. Deserved dedication. We are just 2 donkeys!

We leave the hotel to retrieve the bicycles that were housed in a wooden shed behind the hotel itself, the door closes behind us and the luggage remain inside, the door does not open anymore ... By chance the room symbols were appropriate? We descend in front of the restaurant, we make a sign to the owner who opens both the bike shed and the entrance door for picking the baggages up.

We check the tires, all ok! Let's start. A long descent towards Briancon is waiting for us, about 20 km, there is a lot of wind, but it is not a cold wind, there are about 6-7 degrees and we often have it behind us (thankfully).

The descent is really very pleasant, the landscape has a special light, the sun is in front of us, still quite low and the whole wide valley takes on a surreal atmosphere, almost like a painting by a painter.

We stop in the center of Briancon both for undressing and to buy food, we would like to avoid being without eating as yesterday on the Galibier, even if this unfortunately increases the weight of our load. We obviously take turns, not to leave the bike unattended. After the break, we immediately started the climb to L'Izoard, which starts directly from Briancon.

For the duration of the climb we often stop to take pictures (especially Lorenzo, I am busy trying to reach it), an explosion of autumn colors, really a nice side, even the asphalt was perfect up to the top.

Every occasion is unmissable to take photographs, this little waterfall on the side of the road attracts our attention.

The road is a very long gray velvet snake that moves gently among the colored trees of autumn, simply splendid and priceless.

What we notice compared to yesterday stage is that on the Galibier Pass the vegetation is practically missing while the landscape here is full of tall trees. In our opinion this makes part of the Alps extremely beautifull. A truly remarkable natural amphitheater, perhaps the photos are not enough to give them the right value.

We also notice that the refuge Napoleon (in the background in the picture) is strangely opened, which amazes us because a sign at the beginning of the climb indicated that the shelter was "stopped". We notice that people are eating outside, there is a lot of wind and it is not very hot, we do not envy them, thank goodness we have our food..

After the last spectacular bends we are at the top, where it is marked by an obelisk in front of which practically everyone stops to take the usual photos, we do not get away from the ritual and ask an Italian motorcyclist to immortalize us.

Riding the bike at the topo and almost time to think about the descent, here the wind is deadly. We take shelter behind a wooden kiosk, where we change and eat something of our food that has been painstakingly transported up here.

We decide to go down from the same side, it is no longer time to think of going down and up for another 1700 meters in altitude, the risk is to get on the Italian side of the Agnello pass with the darkness. However, it is not just downhill, arrived in Briancon, in oder to get back Italy we still expect another challenging hill, the Montgenèvre Pass.

It is not easily describable the emotion of the descent from the Izoard, first for the panorama, and second for the curves, not particularly technically demanding, above all for the excellent conditions of the asphalt. A real fun and enjoyment.

Once in Briancon, we undress again because we expect a long climb again. The scenario just out of Briancon towards Montgenevre is beautiful, the view with the fortifications, works of Vauban, (listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list) leaves breathtaking.

Of course, the temptation to stop to take pictures is irresistible, we are not alone. A few meters from us another cyclist is admiring the scenery and taking photographs. We are approaching to make immediate acquaintance, He is Tom from England he is touring Europe with his bicycle and his light luggage, really impressive. We feel overwhelmed when compared to him.

The ascent of Montgenèvre despite not having an impressive altitude compared to Galibier and Izoard is felt tough, first because it is the third day and it is additionally the second uphill of the day.

Crossing Monginevro we discover at least in two points that the bike path is used as a parking space for French Cars. It's a small world...

We meet Tom again on the Montgenèvre meadows. Tom was allowing himself a relaxing break, when he sees us pass, he hurries to greet us. We chat with him a little more, his travel schedule includes Torino, then by train to Genoa and then who knows, we take a picture together and we hope that one day Tom will remember of us and he will tell us the story of his trip.

We throw ourselves back downhill, it is late and this time we have no hotel booked, we have to look for something for the night. For bicycles the road is reserved, in fact the old section of the National road 24 is closed to traffic, here the cars do not pass anymore, it does give a very pleasent feeling.

As soon as we arrive in Cesana while we are looking for accommodation for the night another "meeting of destiny" awaits us, dear friends of Lorenzo, Claudia and Ivan are walking with the dog through the streets of the town. Lorenzo is finally really happy finding in a stroke the sociality of our "beautiful country" and a nice platter of pasta with tomato sauce. Thanks to the dear Claudia and Ivan for the hospitality and the wonderful evening.

Tomorrow last stage back home, I would say almost a transfer stage, anyway also on this occasion the "meeting of destiny". Meeting Mauro, remember the protagonist of the Unplanned trip to Cornaley.

The Video

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