Tour de France 2018

Friday July 13, 2018
Geneva to Guillestre, France

Saturday July 14, 2018
la Fête nationale
bike up Col Agnel

Sunday July 15, 2018
Cime de la Bonette
France wins World Cup!

la Fête nationale
bike up Col Agnel on the Italian border 2744m / 9,003' from Chateau Queyras 1229m / 4,032' - 1515m vertical, 22km uphill - 6th highest paved road in the Alps

My plan of attack for this trip changed a few times. 
The most recent plan was to try Cime de la Bonette since it was higher, then Col Agnel, in that order.
I was already really tired and this was the start of the trip.
It was a one hour drive from my hotel to the start for Cime de la Bonette, but only 30 minutes to the start for Col Agnel.
Weather was supposed to be best tomorrow, it was iffy for the next several days.
I decided to start with Col Agnel on Saturday because it was closer.
I woke up way too early, eventually got the bike loaded in the car and drove to Chateau Queyras.
The Chateau was easy to find and there was plenty of parking this early - so far so good!

Kent's pic
03:53 Europe time 18:53 California time
Kent: My parents brought up stuff that was mine long ago
Kent:  My biking jersey and hat from back in the day.

03:55 Europe time 18:55 California time
Dusty: My rental bike and my car are both Peugeot, when i was a kid i wanted a Peugeot so badly....

04:13 Europe time 19:13 California time
Kent: Ray and I had the same Jersey
Kent:  He had a great Peugeot as well

06:48 Europe time 21:48 California time

Chateau Queyras - this is where I parked the car and started cycling.
So far it looks like sunny weather!

I took one quick picture then locked the car and started peddling.
Within a minute I realized there was about 40m of downhill here!
I would need to climb back up this at the end of the trip!
Not cool....

06:58 Europe time 21:58 California time

About 10m later, when I took this picture, I thought the sun is just starting to hit the peaks...
Reality is the clouds are rolling in - the sun had already hit the Chateau which is nearly on the valley floor.

07:26 Europe time 22:26 California time

It had been mostly sunny, but now it is clouding over!
I stop freqeuntly to take pictures.
After perhaps 30m or so the road to Col Agnel turned off to the left while the road to Saint Veran ski resort continued straight up the valley.
I saw only a few old lifts in the distance and was glad I wouldn't be going near them and would be leaving them behind as I continued up the road...

07:33 Europe time 22:33 California time

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After about an hour the clouds break up and I get full sun again!
The sun couldn't have returned at a better time, the scenery here was gorgeous.
The alps get best above the treeline, above say 2000m....
I started taking 360 degree video on the way up.
The camera ran for maybe 45 minutes before I heard it make a noise that I assume meant it decided to stop taking video.

08:51 Europe time 23:51 California time

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09:21 Europe time 00:21 California time

The last 5km or so was pretty brutal - all between 8% and 9.5%

09:21 Europe time 00:21 California time

09:22 Europe time 00:22 California time

PANO - scroll right

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PANO - scroll right

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The sun came out again right before I got to the top...

09:41 Europe time 00:41 California time

PANO - scroll right

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09:56 Europe time 00:56 California time

I made it!
Col Agnel looking north into France.
I had started so early I didn't see too many other cyclists on the way up, at least until I started to stop and take pictures every 10 minutes... then cyclists started to catch up to me.

09:56 Europe time 00:56 California time

Colle dell'Agnello - looking south to Italy.
Note the clouds hanging over Valle Varaita
There's a statue of the Virgin Mary and an Italian flag right next to my right elbow.
This view was amazing, it just about took my breath away.

09:58 Europe time 00:58 California time

09:59 Europe time 00:59 California time

09:59 Europe time 00:59 California time

09:59 Europe time 00:59 California time
Wooden carving of Michele Scarponi, who was killed while training for the Giro on April 22, 2017

I sent texted several pictures to the guys
10:06 Europe time 01:06 California time
Dusty: Col d' Agnes, 2744m, 6th highest paved road in the Alps, French Italian border, heaven!

10:11 Europe time 01:11 California time
Dusty: I also took 360 video from 8km until i think 1.5km from the summit when i think it may have stopped (it made a noise)
Dusty: pure French alp heaven on French National Day
Dusty: They are holding a service to remember the war dead this morning right about now in Guillestre

I rode down to turn 1 on the Italian side to see what I could see, then decided to head down to the statue of the Virgin Mary.
I locked the bike to the guardrail and in 4 minutes I was at the statue.
(I carry a very thin lightweight cable and lock that would only serve as a minor deterant to any real thief, but I didn't expect a problem in Europe in the middle of nowhere.)

10:25 Europe time 01:25 California time
Turn 1 on Colle dell'Agnello, the Italian side

PANO - scroll right

10:26 Europe time 01:26 California time
Turn 1 on Colle dell'Agnello, the Italian side

10:26 Europe time 01:26 California time
Turn 1 on Colle dell'Agnello, the Italian side

10:30 Europe time 01:30 California time

10:31 Europe time 01:31 California time

It took several minutes to clamber back up hill to the bike.

10:46 Europe time 01:46 California time

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10:57 Europe time 01:57 California time

On the way down I realized that I hadn't taken any pictures of the mileage markers on the way up...

10:58 Europe time 01:58 California time

I was here too early, they didn't open for an hour....

11:06 Europe time 02:06 California time

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11:23 Europe time 02:23 California time

I stopped at Snack Chez Mem's for a beer.
They didn't serve food until noon, but they'd serve me a beer, which was much better than nothing.
I inhaled the first beer quickly enough that a second beer was in order...

11:24 Europe time 02:24 California time

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12:10 Europe time 03:10 California time

I stopped for a snack and wolfed it down while watching the National Day festivities on their television.

12:13 Europe time 03:13 California time

12:20 Europe time 03:20 California time

I can see the start of the climb, Chateau Queyras!

12:23 Europe time 03:23 California time

le Guil

12:32 Europe time 03:32 California time

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12:44 Europe time 03:44 California time

Via Ferrata along the river.
I love seeing things that you would never in a million years see in the US.

12:47 Europe time 03:47 California time

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13:07 Europe time 04:07 California time

13:08 Europe time 04:08 California time

After I got back to the car I realized that I hadn't taken a picture of the hoodoo, so I drove back uphill for a few minutes for the picture...
Large hoodoo across the l'Aigue Agnelle
I was pretty sore after my ride, fortunately I had plenty of ibuprofen...

13:26 Europe time 04:26 California time
Ray: I had that same jersey and 2 Peugeots, both of which were stolen
Ray: Where's your Campagnolo hat?

13:27 Europe time 04:27 California time
Ray: Ok, Kent said that
Ray: I need to read the whole thread before replying! Whatcha doin now, Dusty? We're at Tibidabo amusement park...

13:45 Europe time 04:45 California time
Paul: Nice Dust! Looks like the threat of rain was just a threat
Paul: Looks like a great day!

13:46 Europe time 04:46 California time
Paul: Make sure to order coffee from your left hand
Paul: Italian is much better

14:51 Europe time 05:51 California time
Dusty: The last 5km up that beast were brutal..
Dusty: 9%, 9.1%, 8.7%....There was no food service at the Col
Dusty:  I was spoiled since the Stelvio was my first big col, most Cols are pretty desolate
Dusty:  2 beers at the first spot in the way down, quiche at the bakery where i got to watch part of the National Day ceremonies on tv
Dusty: (hint- lots of singing on the Champs elysees) Recovering now, just hit the supermarket for beer and snackies
Dusty:  Check out the hoodoo

15:30 Europe time 06:30 California time
Ray: How long did it take?

15:31 Europe time 06:31 California time
Dusty: 3h1m up
Dusty:  If i had checked my app immediately after getting to the col it may have been under 3h...
Dusty: but I didn't

15:32 Europe time 06:32 California time
Ray: Did you ask people to take those pictures of you or ask someone? (my kids asked)

15:32 Europe time 06:32 California time
Dusty: ?

15:33 Europe time 06:33 California time
Ray: Good ride!

15:33 Europe time 06:33 California time
Ray: sorry - ask someone or take them yourself...

15:35 Europe time 06:35 California time
Dusty: I asked a guy to take them..
Dusty: both north French and south italian side...map of italian sides shows the valley goes on forever and doesn't list a single place I've ever heard of..
Dusty: French side pretty much the same, you are in the middle of nowhere
Dusty:  Lots of kayaks and rafting in the river

15:35 Europe time 06:35 California time
Dusty: Almost as pretty as the Dolomites up there

18:03 Europe time 09:03 California time
Ray: Great shirt spotted: "Ball playing allowed"

18:21 Europe time 09:21 California time
Kent: My parents have departed with my kids for road trip
Kent:  Went thru first box they left of my old stuff
Kent:  Ray- my mom was wrong
Kent:  Our films survive from 1981!  All three reels!  Somehow there was a black hole in my house
Kent:  Starship fantasy add has TERRIBLE business hours
Kent:  I'm nervous about the other 4 boxes!

18:42 Europe time 09:42 California time
Ray: !!!!!!!! No way!!! I'll help cover the digitization
Ray: This is big news
Ray: The Starship Fantasy ad is priceless
Ray: Nothing but apartments now where that and amc theaters used to be

18:44 Europe time 09:44 California time
Ray: Annabelle: "I want to see those as soon as possible."

18:55 Europe time 09:55 California time
Dusty: Just what youtube was made for

19:09 Europe time 10:09 California time
Dusty: Just sat down to dinner at the same place as last night
Dusty:  It is 7pm and empty, they have one table left (not reserved) and they seated me, that was the end of their smoke break and the beginning of their customer facing work day
Dusty:  Someone else just showed up as I'm typing
Dusty:  Family run business, dad cooks the wife and daughter wait and do everything else up front
Dusty:  I'm just the dumb American who doesn't know a word of French, i hear no English, some Italian...

19:12 Europe time 10:12 California time
Paul: Ray
Paul: I'm seeing Dali stuff today too!

19:22 Europe time 10:22 California time
Ray:  Where?

19:25 Europe time 10:25 California time
Ray: Authentic Arizona is well represented here
Ray: And check out the shrine to Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
Ray: Not sure if random or not.

19:29 Europe time 10:29 California time
Ray: Ah - Legoland! Do you have season pass for that?

19:14 Europe time 10:14 California time

19:19 Europe time 10:19 California time

Same foie gras as last night, and just as good..

19:40 Europe time 10:40 California time

I went with fish.
I don't recall the white fish - it was good, but the salmon was slightly dry and overdone.
Otherwise the dish was great, the broth was amazing.

20:04 Europe time 11:04 California time

Same amazing chocolate.
I didn't order the cheese plate tonight, it was too filling last night.

20:20 Europe time 11:20 California time

20:22 Europe time 11:22 California time

20:36 Europe time 11:36 California time

I wandered town briefly then crashed.
I wanted to participate in whatever National Day festivities were planned for tonight, but it was not going to happen, I was way too tired.

20:23 Europe time 11:23 California time
Kent:  Great job Dusty on your ascent! 

21:13 Europe time 12:13 California time
Ray: Looks like we f'd up! No trains avail online from Barcelona to Figueres in time for our 11am Dali appointment, and no trains to Sitges on Monday
Ray: I plan to go to train station at 7 to try to buy tickets, and if that doesn't work, I'm gonna rent a car
Ray: One rental place near hotel opens at 7am Sunday, or so website says.

21:27 Europe time 12:27 California time
Ray: Any of you advanced travelers have any advice?

21:40 Europe time 12:40 California time
Paul: The internet says that there is a train that leaves Barcelona tomorrow morning at 7:55 and gets in at 9:40
Paul: Can't figure out which station Train to Figures leaves from (think there are 3 in the city)- but you could ask your hotel

21:41 Europe time 12:41 California time
Ray: I can't seem to get it online - will it be possible to buy tickets at station for that time, d'ya think?

21:43 Europe time 12:43 California time
Paul: I would think that would be fine
Paul: I never buy tickets beforehand for trains
Paul: I've only had bad luck once where I had to stand in a crowded mess to Florence once
Paul: Never a problem other than that

21:44 Europe time 12:44 California time
Paul: Worst case is if 2nd class is full (super unlikely) you wind up buying first class for like 50 percent more cost

21:45 Europe time 12:45 California time
Ray: That's a big relief
Ray: Gracias!

21:45 Europe time 12:45 California time
Paul: But you could do a car and loop in Dali's House too n Cadeques if you wanted to go full-on Dali

21:47 Europe time 12:47 California time
Paul: Figure out which train station and how to get there tonight tho
Paul: Station might be across town? (Or could be the one next door to you- I can't tell)

21:47 Europe time 12:47 California time
Ray: There's one 10 minutes away by taxi - checking it now

21:48 Europe time 12:48 California time
Paul: Ask the front desk what to do
Paul: They will all certainly be train experts
Paul: Spain public transport is good
Paul: Not Switzerland, but good

21:50 Europe time 12:50 California time
Paul: You get that trains leave from only one station and each train does not stop at each station in Barcelona right? I feel silly asking this, but it's you

21:53 Europe time 12:53 California time
Ray: :)

22:05 Europe time 13:05 California time
Paul: And the internet also shows trains on Monday to Sitges from Barcelona about every 10-20 minutes
Paul: Probably 50 of em per day

22:08 Europe time 13:08 California time
Paul: Again, check to see if there are some from your station nearby or if you need to get to a different station

23:32 Europe time 14:32 California time
Paul: Ray
Paul: I looked online - you have two options to get to Figures on Sunday
Paul: First Option (easier of the two): The regional train that leaves at 7:51AM leaves from the Passeig De Gracia station that is a 7 minute walk from your hotel
Paul: Trains take about 1 hour 50 minutes
Paul: Return trains in the late afternoon are about hourly, but there are some periods with only trains
Paul: The Figures train station is a 12 minute walk to the Dali Museum

23:39 Europe time 14:39 California time
Paul: Second Option- there are high speed trains to  from a different station in Barcelona to a different station in Figures
Paul: These trains leave the Barcelona Sants station and arrive at the Figures Valifant Station
Paul: These trains take only 50 minutes (bullet train), but the Sants station in Barcelona is further from you (4km) and the Valifant station in Figures is about twice as far from the Dali Museum as the Figures regional rail station
Paul: The only reason I mention the Second Option is in case you want to ride the bullet train, or if you miss the regional train it provides later options that will get you to Figures in time for your 11AM reservation
Paul: The bullet trains to Figures hat you could catch leave at 825 (arrives 920) or 925 (arrives 1020)

23:39 Europe time 14:39 California time
Ray: Phone died..
Ray: I found a high speed train to fig
Ray: Valifant leaving at 9:20, which is perfect
Ray: But after multiple tries, it won't let me pay with any card
Ray: Googled, Rick Steves had answer: says don't even think about using the renfe site without PayPal
Ray: But even that wouldn't work
Ray: So we can just show up tomorrow and try to buy then...

23:40 Europe time 14:40 California time
Paul: There ya go
Paul: And you realize that train leaves from the Sants station, not the station near you- right?

23:44 Europe time 14:44 California time
Ray: Yeah - Sants not too far
Ray: But it has the fast train
Ray: Very annoying to keep getting to payment site, only to be declined repeatedly for no good reason
Ray: Upshot of all this is that we should be ok, one way or another!

23:49 Europe time 14:49 California time
Paul: Yeah
Paul: You might want to use that Sants train station to get to Sitges as well
Paul: There are also trains from the station near you to Sitges as well, but they may all be commuter trains since they don't show up on the RENFE site? I'll email you a link hat shows all of the transport options
Paul: Loads of daily trains to Sitges

23:50 Europe time 14:50 California time
Ray: gracias

Friday July 13, 2018
Geneva to Guillestre, France

Saturday July 14, 2018
la Fête nationale
bike up Col Agnel

Sunday July 15, 2018
Cime de la Bonette
France wins World Cup!