Tour de France 2018

Wednesday July 11 and Thursday July 12, 2018
El Granada to Geneva

Friday July 13, 2018
Geneva to Guillestre, France

Saturday July 14, 2018
la Fête nationale
Col Agnel

I was brave enough to try to rent a car and bike and drive for hours severely jetlagged on Friday the 13th...

The texts tell the plan for the day pretty well

06:23 Europe time 21:23 California time
Kent: Dusty
Kent:  It's 6:22 your time
Kent:  Are you having tech difficulties?  I'm sure you must be in your way by now.

06:37 Europe time 21:37 California time
Dusty: Just got on the train to Grenoble, leaves in 15m
Dusty:  French border security has tightened just a bit, they made me show my passport instead of just a train ticket before waving me through
Dusty:  Didn't sleep too well but what else is new
Dusty:  Was feeling great at 2am here but fading a little now.

06:41 Europe time 21:41 California time
Kent: Nice!  I suggest a sunrise service, and a nap at your stop
Kent:  :)

06:47 Europe time 21:47 California time
Dusty: Got 3 hours of driving to do later..
Dusty: Gotta have my A game until Guillestre and then it really starts
Dusty:  Tomorrow's goal is Cimme de la Bonette, 2nd highest paved road in the Alps, the start is about an hour drive from Guillestre
Dusty:  I hadn't planned to bag that climb on this trip until recently when i realized it wasn't that far away
Dusty:  Weather forecast is kinda sucky..
Dusty: 4 days of scattered thunderstorms and rain...I'm just planning to start my rides early and hope for the best..
Dusty: bought cycling rain gear...

07:04 Europe time 22:04 California time
Kent: So, you're saying you can start drinking at 10:30A?

07:21 Europe time 22:21 California time
Dusty: 2 hour train ride to Grenoble, then rent van and bike, then 3+ hours of driving into the Alps..
Dusty: will be sober for a while

07:12 Europe time 22:12 California time
Dusty: I got plenty messed up last night, though it was mostly exhaustion

07:18 Europe time 22:18 California time
Ray: Heading to Monserrat...

07:18 Europe time 22:18 California time
Ray: Good luck on your bike ride, Dusty!

07:30 Europe time 22:30 California time
Kent: Good luck!  That's some drive
Kent:  Drink some coffee!

Ray's pic

07:51 Europe time 22:51 California time
Ray: Cigarette machine with climber...

08:39 Europe time 23:39 California time
Ray: In Monistrol, about to hike to monastery

Ray's pic

Ray's pic

Ray's pic

Ray's pic

Ray's pic

10:16 Europe time 01:16 California time
Ray: Neary died a couple of times on way up, even though it was only a 1 hr 15 climb
Ray: Brutal sun and humidity
Ray: Gorgeous monkhouse!

I arrived in Grenoble and took a taxi to the rental car company.
The fine folks at the rental car company also wanted an additional 80 euros to pick up my car at the train station instead of at their office a few miles away.
This was another change I was forced to make when I rebooked the car to pick it up a day earlier.
Fortunately they had my car - I picked a 5 seater in hopes I'd be able to put the bike in the back over the folded down rear seats.

10:06 Europe time 01:06 California time

I rented this carbon frame Peugeot with a Ultregra transmission for just 20 euros a day from energybike.fr in Grenoble - half what I've normally paid per day, and half what the only other bike shop in Grenoble wanted.
I brought my own seat and pedals, and the bike shop quickly installed them for me.
I don't ride a road bike at all anymore, I figured I'm not in practice to clip in - I don't want to fall over and break a hip or elbow cause I can't unclip (I know two different people who have broken their elbow and hip cuase they fell over clipped in)

10:26 Europe time 01:26 California time

10:34 Europe time 01:34 California time
Dusty: Car and bike rented
Dusty: Car is just big enough for the bike! 

10:57 Europe time 01:57 California time
Ray: Did you have to take off both wheels

11:26 Europe time 02:26 California time
Dusty: Neither..
Dusty: perfect fit!

11:25 Europe time 02:25 California time

I drove south from Grenoble through Gap, then headed east.
I'd always wanted to see Gap since it is frequently mention in the TDF, and is also a decent spot for wingsuit base jumping according to the movie Birdmen.
The scenery was pretty but underwelming.

13:28 Europe time 04:28 California time

Lac Serre-Ponçon

13:57 Europe time 04:57 California time

13:58 Europe time 04:58 California time

14:07 Europe time 05:07 California time

I saw lots of kayakers on the Durance river

14:25 Europe time 05:25 California time
Ray: Back in Barcelona
Ray: Montserrat was amazing
Ray: Froze my ass off getting there, only to bake in heat

It was gorgeous and sunny when I arrived in Guillestre, but the forecast was mixed for the days ahead.
When I first planned this trip, I planned to bike up Col d'Izuord. 
After I later started to focus on the top ten paved roads in the Alps, Col d'Izuord became my third priority in Guillestre, but I still wanted very much to see it, and get excellent pictures of it.
I was getting really tired now, but against better judgement I drove past Guillestre and up Col d'Izuord for pictures.

14:56 Europe time 05:56 California time

Casse Deserte

14:58 Europe time 05:58 California time

PANO from the parking lot for Casse Deserte - scroll right

15:00 Europe time 06:00 California time

15:00 Europe time 06:00 California time

Looking south from Casse Deserte

Casse Deserte

15:18 Europe time 06:18 California time

Casse Deserte

15:30 Europe time 06:30 California time

Col d'Izuord and Casse Deserte

15:35 Europe time 06:35 California time

15:35 Europe time 06:35 California time

15:47 Europe time 06:47 California time

PANO of Col d'Izuord looking north - scroll right

15:47 Europe time 06:47 California time

Col d'Izuord - looking north

15:49 Europe time 06:49 California time
Col d'Izuord - looking south

15:51 Europe time 06:51 California time

16:03 Europe time 07:03 California time

Paul: Cool Ray! Any other day trips planned? How many days till you start the cruise?

I sent the guys some pictures and a text

I texted some of the pictures of Col d'Izuord to the guys, then explained:

Dusty: Spent 3-1/2+ hours driving to Guillestre, then drove up Col d'Izuord to get pictures
Dusty:  I plan to ride it, but it is 3rd on the list (it was first when i first started planning this trip) and I'm worried i may get rained out or run out of energy
Dusty:  it is another TDF classic [and the 25th highest paved road in the Alps, I would later discover]

15:56 Europe time 06:56 California time
Ray: 4 more nights at Praktik Hotel! Can't believe it
Ray: We are doing Stiges on Monday - Sunday is Dali town
Ray: It's been quite a week!

15:58 Europe time 06:58 California time
Paul: So cool
Paul: Dali Museum town (Figures I believe) or Dali House town (Cadaques)?

15:59 Europe time 06:59 California time
Ray: Hmm
Ray: I'm not sure! Amy made reservations...

16:00 Europe time 07:00 California time
Paul: Gotcha
Paul: Been to the house, it's great
Paul: Heard the museum was great to
Paul: You're good either way

16:05 Europe time 07:05 California time
Paul: Figures (Dali Museum) is directly west of Cadaquez (Dali House), (24 miles apart) so conceivably you could see both places/towns fairly easily on one road trip
Paul: Figures is inland, Cadaques is on a peninsula that juts into the Sea

Kent's text
16:10 Europe time 07:10 California time
Kent: Hanging in my garage
Kent: The hallucinogenic toreador

16:56 Europe time 07:56 California time
Ray: Amy says we're going to Figures.

17:02 Europe time 08:02 California time
Michael: Happy birthday Ray

17:06 Europe time 08:06 California time
Dusty: Happy Birthday Ray!  damnit you need to tell us unless you want us to feel guilty when we forget!

Finally I headed down Col d'Izuord, nearly falling asleep at the wheel, and checked in to my hotel. 
I was underwelmed - I was paying way more (90 euros a night) than this room was worth, but it was the only place I could find online in Guillestre.
I was in Hotel Restaurant Les Barnieres, on the very outskirts of town, maybe a 5 minute walk from town.

16:52 Europe time 07:52 California time

17:09 Europe time 08:09 California time

View from my room looking northwest - would be a million euro view if the trees weren't there.

17:09 Europe time 08:09 California time

View from my room looking west back toward Gap

17:09 Europe time 08:09 California time
View from my room looking southwest - Guillestre is south of me down that road.
Risoul 1850 ski area is up in those mountains.

17:13 Europe time 08:13 California time
Paul: Yikes
Paul: 104 in Figures on Saturday
Paul: Back in Phoenix

17:14 Europe time 08:14 California time
Kent: Beautiful dusty!
Happy b-day Ray!

17:15 Europe time 08:15 California time
Ray: Thanks!

17:25 Europe time 08:25 California time
Dusty: The top of the Col was an amazing 360 view.
Dusty: couple of panos and some Insta360 pics and video...

17:28 Europe time 08:28 California time
Ray: Get any questions about that 360 cam mounted on your head, or were people too embarrassed...

17:28 Europe time 08:28 California time
Ray: Thanks for b-day wishes! Others coming up soon...

17:30 Europe time 08:30 California time
Dusty: I didn't mount it on my head yet..
Dusty: just held it straight up on a small tripod, works fine
Dusty: Need to get hand and fingers away from it or they take up half the pic and ruin it...

17:32 Europe time 08:32 California time
Ray: Paul, you're wrong
Ray: It'll only be 103.4

19:00 Europe time 10:00 California time

Walking into Guillestre

19:01 Europe time 10:01 California time

I had researched restaurants in Guillestre on tripadvisor - while there were easily half a dozen good places, the highest rated was la Bolee
It is run by a husband and wife, he cooks, she serves, as does their teenage daughter.
When I spoke English, he deferred to his wife, who then deferred to her daughter, who was also anxious about speaking English.

I got the last available table!
They have a 30 euro menu with your choice of beef, fish, or lamb (add 4 euros for a cheese course, 5 euros more for foie gras, 5 euros more for beef)
I picked lamb the first night, fully intending to try all available choices during my stay.

19:23 Europe time 10:23 California time
Olive tapanade appetizer... yummy...

19:28 Europe time 10:28 California time
A watermelon based palate cleanser

19:05 Europe time 10:05 California time
Ray: In a shop, Sophie's picking out playing cards, and I hold up a deck to the counterguy:
Ray: "USA Civil War? Where's the deck for the Spanish Civil War?"
Guy in serious voice: "We don't do that in this country."

19:16 Europe time 10:16 California time
Paul: Franco was still ruling when you were born

19:25 Europe time 10:25 California time
Ray: Franco's victims didn't experience a century of slavery before they were oppressed, either though
Ray: They'll be laughing it off soon.

19:26 Europe time 10:26 California time
Ray: But it's true - many people alive here remember it
Ray: Was reading about Franco's White Terror before I left

19:30 Europe time 10:30 California time
Dusty: I think i hear my foie gras frying
Dusty: At La Bolee

19:36 Europe time 10:36 California time
Dusty: If you think they'll be laughing it off soon, I don't think you were paying attention!  Happy Birthday

19:36 Europe time 10:36 California time
Paul: Chapter 10 of For Whom the Bell Toll
Paul: Fantastic
Paul: I've been to the cliffs in Ronda where the real events that inspired Hemingway took place

19:38 Europe time 10:38 California time
Paul: [to Ray] Go with the secret meat! It could be squirrel! Mmmmmmm, delicious rodent

20:30 Europe time 11:30 California time
Ray: That book is amazing
Ray: I need to reread it
Ray: That scene and on other (no spoilers) I'll never forget
Ray: Apparently inspired by real events.

20:34 Europe time 11:34 California time
Paul: Yes
Paul: Here is the cliff (upper left) where the real events took place
Paul: I got engaged to Lisa in one of the buildings on the upper right over looking the bridge - the building was an old palace that was converted to a hotel

20:36 Europe time 11:36 California time
Paul: Ronda, Spain
Paul: Fantastic town - we walked all the way around
Paul: The bridge in the picture is from the 1700s I believe, but around the side of the town you go over a surviving Roman bridge, and there are nicely preserved Roman baths there as well

19:37 Europe time 10:37 California time

Foie gras poele sauce vierge fruitee
pave de pommes de terre cuites a la graisse d'oie et jeunes pousses

My foie gras... probably the best thing I have ever eaten in my life.
The flavors gently exploded in my mouth.

19:50 Europe time 10:50 California time

20:06 Europe time 11:06 California time
Lamb roasted for 9 hours with a carmelized crust over garlic sauce with lentils.
It was simply amazing, clearly one of the very best meals of my life.

20:09 Europe time 11:09 California time
It was a challenge taking a picture inside the restaurant without either the mother or the daughter in it since there were constantly in motion.
I figured they might not appreciate me taking a picture of their daughter...

20:45 Europe time 11:45 California time

Rich chocolate - amazing....
I ate a stunning meal and had a new favorite restaurant...

21:01 Europe time 12:01 California time

21:02 Europe time 12:02 California time

21:09 Europe time 12:09 California time

21:05 Europe time 12:05 California time
Ray: Rondo looks fab! So many great places to see here
Ray: We just spent a while walking around Gothic Quarter
Ray: Not the Spanish Quarter, but cool in its own way
Ray: Medieval euro towns are badass

21:37 Europe time 12:37 California time
Paul: You make it to Parc Guell yet? You can't leave without that

21:40 Europe time 12:40 California time
Ray: Heck, yeah, we did that same day as Sangruda Familia - that was Gaudi day
Ray: The fam also stopped by the bitchin' apartment building by him when I was out yesterday.

21:40 Europe time 12:40 California time
Ray: Amy and Sophie refused to tour it once there
Ray: Stairs
Ray: Lots of 'em.

21:40 Europe time 12:40 California time
Ray: What did you think of it?

21:43 Europe time 12:43 California time
Kent: My favorite part of europe is walking around medieval towns after the tourists leave
Kent:  That's why I always harp about Rothenburg in Germany
Kent:  What a great trip your having!

21:43 Europe time 12:43 California time
Paul: I really liked Parc Guell
Paul: Just bizarre
Paul: I did not do the apartment though

21:52 Europe time 12:52 California time
Ray: Tivissa was especially cool because there were zero tourists, and very few residents in general were out
Ray: I drove the moto around until I was scared
Ray: There is too much bike-drop potential in medieval towns, I've found! I'd often zoom up a steep "alleyway," only to find a dead end and little room to turn around
Ray: But for a while it was fun as hell

21:54 Europe time 12:54 California time
Kent: Those cobbles or granite roads are so slippery
Kent:  I have crashed on my skateboard because of how slick they are.

22:32 Europe time 13:32 California time
Ray: Oh, btw, I have noticed quite a few people skateboarding on the Rambla the last few days..

22:39 Europe time 13:39 California time
Kent: Nice
Kent:  It's a great way to explore a town or get around on short commutes
Kent:  I'll never travel internationally without it
Kent:  It's also more fun than riding a bike
Kent:  Imo

Wednesday July 11 and Thursday July 12, 2018
El Granada to Geneva

Friday July 13, 2018
Geneva to Guillestre, France

Saturday July 14, 2018
la Fête nationale
Col Agnel