Barcelona Day 3 from Geneva to Grenoble

Today I made it on my bike at a quarter to eight o’clock. The third day in a row with steep climbs and a similar number of meters of altitude as on the last two days. But longer! A new, big challenge that has to be mastered.

Quite quickly after the start, I reach the French border. Not a sergeant far and wide, a high five for the Schengen area! Nevertheless, I make a small stop and switch for the live transmission from my iPhone with my Swiss SIM card to my Nokia with my global data SIM. None of the Swiss mobile phone providers is participating in EU roaming and I find CHF 2.95 (EUR 2.60, USD 2.92) per MB simply outrageously expensive (Salt) and pure rip-off. Long live the high price island Switzerland!

Then it really starts – France wants to show me right at the beginning who is the boss in the ring. The next 20 km (12 mi) I have to climb several hundred meters of altitude. First with a real demotivation section: 26 % gradient! With bags and trailers no chance, I have to get off and push. With the weight is also hard work! But we whine later, now we spit into our hands and then we have to push, push, push…

The remaining climbs were fortunately not so steep, but nevertheless very demanding. Especially my thighs feel pretty tired today. I’m not used to doing the third day in a row with such altitude difference. A magnesium effervescent tablet here, a protein bar there and I’ll be back today without any major statements from my muscles about all the climbs!

I filmed very little today because it is relatively cool at around 9 °C (48 °F) and the sky is cloudy. Besides it is somehow damp today, there is rain in the air. So I don’t have the motivation for filming. Even with photos, I hold myself back in the afternoon because when I take a break in Aix-les-Bains after pretty much exactly half of the day’s distance, it starts to rain. Now that I’m writing these lines and taking another look at the map, I notice that the lake where Aix-les-Bains is located has two names: The upper right corner is called Lac Leysse (about one-third of the lake area), the rest is called Lac du Bourget. One name is derived from the main tributary, the Leysse. The other name comes from the town of Le Bourget-du-Lac on the south bank. Irrespective of its name, this lake has two special characteristics: It is the largest natural lake in France and has never been frozen over since time immemorial!

Done, the senior teacher has finished work. Get on the bike and go on, after all, the second half is still ahead of me. After all, I know that no extreme gradients are to be expected here. Nevertheless, I am not very motivated, because the rain is constantly increasing and I now ride under full rain gear: rain trousers and rain jacket, a rain cover on the helmet, rainproof gloves and gaiters over the cycling shoes. All that is left is the face as an exchange point between the inner and outer world, which is particularly noticeable in heat management. What is the difference between humidity from outside and humidity from inside? The humidity from the inside is warmer. It doesn’t help, I must go to Grenoble today. Yes, a must is relative, but I have it firmly intended.

Meanwhile, it rains in streams. I hardly take any photos, the mobile phone stays better in my pocket. I focus on the goal of the day and ignore all alternative possibilities like bus and train, I want to make it in an “honest” way! At least I’m not the only crazy one: I pass two other touring cyclists on a slight gradient and let them eat my dust. The wet version. It’s amazing what I can get out of my tired legs when I think of a warm and dry hotel room…

At some point, I’ll be in Grenoble. Now I have to go to the center because there is my hotel. The way there goes mostly along the L’Isère. I have to think about my last year’s city trip to Lyon, it looks exactly the same here, almost like a copy. When I drive into the city, I first have doubts, as it is the case with many bigger cities, concerning the traffic and the traffic guidance for cyclists. Here in Grenoble I am very positively surprised: First for a wide bicycle expressway with separate lanes for the driving directions and own traffic lights directly into the center, then it goes in the center well developed further up to directly in front of the hotel. Super! That’s exactly what I needed because I’ve been on the road for more than eleven hours now!

Today it was 149 km (93 mi), for which I needed 8h 26m. I climbed 1’514 m (4’967 ft) of altitude. Now I’m charging my human battery with a chicken filet menu, two large Colas and no ice cream. Bon appétit!


Written on May 17, 2019