Tour de France 2018

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

Monday July 16, 2018
bike up Col d’Izoard

Tuesday July 17, 2018
Colle del Nivolet

bike up Col d’Izoard 2360m / 7,743' from Guillestre 1044m, then down to Briançon, train to Eygliers 881m bike back up to Guillestre 1479m vertical, 31.5km uphill, 21km downhill

Monday morning I was pretty wiped out mentally.
Physically I still felt pretty good.
High chance of thunderstorms today, but I was going to get up Col d'Izoard no matter what.
I slept in a little, enjoying the fact that I was going to start today's ride from my hotel and wouldn't have to drive anywhere first.
Finally I ran out of excuses and got my butt on the road.

08:30 Europe time 17:30 California time
Market Day in Guillestre

08:44 Europe time 17:44 California time
Looking west back toward Guillestre

09:10 Europe time 18:10 California time
Looking west back toward Guillestre

09:13 Europe time 18:13 California time
Looking east up the Guil valley

Very pleasant morning!
The river valley was gorgeous...

09:15 Europe time 18:15 California time
Looking back downhill

09:43 Europe time 18:43 California time
Monument to war victims

09:46 Europe time 18:46 California time

09:47 Europe time 18:47 California time
It was 15km up to the turn to the actual road up the Col - it was longer than I expected even though I've already driven it twice..

09:48 Europe time 18:48 California time

09:49 Europe time 18:49 California time

09:52 Europe time 18:52 California time

09:58 Europe time 18:58 California time

09:59 Europe time 18:59 California time

10:10 Europe time 19:10 California time

10:34 Europe time 19:34 California time
The sky was getting pretty gray, and the scenery was nowhere near as pretty as the last two days.
The sunny river valley was much more enjoyable..

10:42 Europe time 19:42 California time

10:56 Europe time 19:56 California time

10:57 Europe time 19:57 California time

10:57 Europe time 19:57 California time
Looking south back the way I came

10:58 Europe time 19:58 California time

10:59 Europe time 19:59 California time
Fabio Aru is an Italian professional cyclist...  we are only a few miles from the Italian border here...

11:16 Europe time 20:16 California time

11:25 Europe time 20:25 California time

11:29 Europe time 20:29 California time
Under dreary skis I finally reached the Calle Desert.
I was extremely glad that I'd already taken pictures here in excellent sunlight a few days ago.
I'd wanted to see this for years, but I must admit it was a bit of a disappointment.
From TDF footage I assumed Calle Desert went on for miles and was enormous.
Having lived in the desert southwest, this was.... pretty tiny, all things considered.
It only went on for a couple of kilometers.
However the prior two days rides had greatly exceeded my very high expectations, this was pure gravy....

11:30 Europe time 20:30 California time
Calle Desert

11:30 Europe time 20:30 California time
Col d'Izoard in the distance from the south

11:32 Europe time 20:32 California time

PANO - scroll right

11:54 Europe time 20:54 California time
I made it!
Three cols in three days!
and I haven't been rained on today... yet....
I didn't linger long on the top, storms continued to form to the south.
I took a few more pictures then headed downhill on the north side.
This was the first time I've traversed a col instead of taking the 'safe' route back downhill the way I came.
However this traversal was still pretty safe since I planned to take the train back...

11:54 Europe time 20:54 California time

11:56 Europe time 20:56 California time
Looking south back the way I came up... at storm clouds....

11:57 Europe time 20:57 California time

PANO - scroll right

12:31 Europe time 21:31 California time

12:32 Europe time 21:32 California time

12:55 Europe time 21:55 California time

12:55 Europe time 21:55 California time

13:08 Europe time 22:08 California time

I made it to Briançon!
Time for a beer while I waited for the train to take me and the bike back south to Guillestre

Meanwhile in Spain with Ray's family

Ray's pic

Ray's pic

Ray's pic

12:51 Europe time 03:51 California time
Ray:Sitges isn't bad!

13:04 Europe time 04:04 California time
Ray: Can you believe my wife took this one? Girl was clearly showing off, doing back bends and handstands while playing beach volleyball
Ray: Had attention of everyone on beach at 1st - now it's ho-hum

13:05 Europe time 04:05 California time
Ray: Here's what rest of Playa de San Sebastian looks like..
Ray: Awesome weather, too
Ray: Rained in morn, perfect now.

13:16 Europe time 04:16 California time
Dusty: Col d'Izoard today, the one I drove the first day
Dusty:  2360m 31.5km last 8km are pretty brutal
Dusty:  Sprinkled at the top
Dusty:  I went up the south side and down the tree lined north side into Briancon
Dusty:  There's a train at 248pm back to town near Guillestre from Briancon
Dusty:  Real men would ride back
Dusty:  Sprinkled most of the way down the mountain but never rained
Dusty:  Now Afligem!

13:20 Europe time 04:20 California time
Dusty: I'm going to try to drive 3hr tomorrow morning to Locana IT then bike 40km up Colle del Nivolet 2641m 8th highest paved road in the Alps
Dusty:  That will make 5 of the top 8, I'm at 4 now
Dusty:  Weather is supposed to be nice.

13:22 Europe time 04:22 California time
Dusty: First time I've been able to have a beer on the ride without worrying about driving back after the ride..
Dusty: I need another!

13:23 Europe time 04:23 California time
Ray: Great job, Dusty! What's next today?

13:26 Europe time 04:26 California time
Dusty: Today is over except getting home on a train
Dusty:   Slight climb back to hotel from train, will be non trivial
Dusty:  Already paid for hotel, told them I'm leaving 1 day early....will try to go back that excellent restaurant for the beef..
Dusty: loved the lamb and fish...

13:26 Europe time 04:26 California time
Dusty: That beach looks awesome Ray!

13:27 Europe time 04:27 California time
Dusty: But first spending an hour watching Briancon go by while i drink beer
Dusty:  Getting a little chilly, hoping it doesn't rain, haven't found the train station yet

13:31 Europe time 04:31 California time
Ray: That sounds fun
Ray: So climb to hotel is on bike, too? Maybe you better not drink too much! 🤮

13:50 Europe time 04:50 California time
Dusty: Storm pretty much the entire way between Ray and I
Dusty:  Looks like I've barely escaped the rain riding north but that may soon be over

13:56 Europe time 04:56 California time
Ray: Yeah, you could get doused again, looks like
Ray: We are now in sunny skies, well west of Barcelona
Ray: Warming up a little,  but it's pleasant in our sunshade
Ray: I had a long swim
Ray: Life is good

14:10 Europe time 05:10 California time
Dusty: Found the train station all of 2m of riding and 4m of googling
Dusty:  6.60 euros back, the velo is free
Dusty:  Train station is warm and has no wind, which I'll take right now.

14:14 Europe time 05:14 California time
Dusty: The 4 rides I've done in this area - from the top Col du Galibier last year, Col d Izuord today with the start and end arrows, Col Agnel 2 days ago, Cimme de la Bonnette yesterday

14:16 Europe time 05:16 California time
Dusty: Italian border is the purple line on the right, Col Agnel ride ends there

14:53 Europe time 05:53 California time
Ray: You should give up the hotels and ride across Europe
Ray: Looks like you've already done the hard parts
Ray: Cut the cord.

14:54 Europe time 05:54 California time
Dusty: Nah, I work hard riding up Alps so i can justify eating too much fine French food
Dusty:  These hotels are one step up from a hostel..
Dusty: they may not be cheap but they aren't glamorous

14:57 Europe time 05:57 California time
Ray: Luxury biker! Ok, my idea would involve some misery
Ray: That's why I haven't tried it
Ray: Amy's uncle once rode his bike up US coast from Mexico to Canada..

14:58 Europe time 05:58 California time
Ray: He said it got much easier after about the 4th or 5th day.

15:10 Europe time 06:10 California time
Dusty: My legs were worked the first day but have been fine since
Dusty:  I don't think i could possibly eat too many calories right now...

15:22 Europe time 06:22 California time
Kent: Nice job Dusty!  The tour is heating up after yesterday's cobble stage
Kent:  Mountains should be good
Ken: Ray, good job with the beach photos (and it looks very cool there)
Kent:  And good for Sophie!  When in Rome!

15:49 Europe time 06:49 California time
Ray: She has moxy, for sure
Ray: She's been partying with other people for over an hour now, playing cards and "helping" the counter girls at the concession stand
Ray: Princess of the beach

14:35 Europe time 23:35 California time
In France your bike rides for free on the train (a bike costs as much as a person in Switzerland!)
I watched a couple of teenagers with a mountain bike struggle with the bike rack.
The bike rack was only designed for road bikes, it wouldn't fit their mountain bike with wider tires.

15:18 Europe time 00:18 California time
Place forte de Mont-Dauphin from the train.
Other than the mountains, this was supposed to be only sight worth seeing around here.
I never bothered.

I got off the train at Eygliers 881m, which is 163m lower than my hotel in Guillestre.
I decided to take a back road along the Guil instead of the busy highway.
The road was dirt and gravel for a couple of kilometers but not too bad.

15:42 Europe time 00:42 California time
My road crosses the bridge then winds up the hill - my hotel and Guillestre are on top of the plateau.

15:44 Europe time 00:44 California time
 I couldn't believe how small the kids kayaks were... those kids were only about 5 and 7 years old!

16:15 Europe time 01:15 California time
Hoodoo in the foreground
The sun finally came back out!

16:17 Europe time 07:17 California time
Dusty: On the steep road up from the river
Dusty:  Hoodoos all over the place here.

16:41 Europe time 07:41 California time
Ray: Looks fragile!

16:41 Europe time 07:41 California time
Ray: Nice photo!

I crashed for a while in the hotel. 
I had booked the room for 4 nights, now I cancelled my last night and paid my bill since I'd accomplished everything I wanted to in this area.
I had my sights set on Colle del Nivolet in Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso tomorrow - about 3 hours away.
I went out to dine one last time at my beloved la Bolee, but it was closed!
I was not too surprised to find a restaurant closed on a Monday.
I had a backup plan...Michelin rated Dedans Dehors
They were able to seat me, I again got the last table in the house...
I was a little disappointed but also a little relieved that they had an English menu.
One of the waiters also spoke English, which made things considerably easier once they figured out I was an American...

19:14 Europe time 04:14 California time

19:13 Europe time 04:13 California time
My table

19:19 Europe time 04:19 California time
Fried foie gras on bread with blackcurrents with salad.
It was good, but not as good as la Bolee's foie gras...

19:40 Europe time 04:40 California time
The waiter recommended the blueberry wine, it was excellent

18:36 Europe time 09:36 California time
Paul: Damn
Paul: You guys look to be having some good days there
Paul: Ray, you do anything in Sitges other than the Beach?

19:41 Europe time 10:41 California time
Dusty: The blueberry wine is fantastic!  One of the staff actually speaks English here, feels like cheating
Dusty: The fois gras was fantastic.

19:43 Europe time 10:43 California time
Dusty: Different place than last night, they are closed Mondays

18:57 Europe time 09:57 California time
Paul: When's the cruise start and where are you going?

19:01 Europe time 10:01 California time
Ray: I'm weightlifting now
Ray: Yes - the girls also shopped there
Ray: But it was a full beach experience
Ray: We just got back - went straight to area where we're doing dinner
Ray: So we got to Sitges at 11:30, beach at noon, stayed there till 4:30, then caught train at 5:30
Ray: Easy train
Ray: Silly website! We board Mickey's cruise at 3 tomorrow
Ray: Next day: Cannes, Nice and Monaco
Ray: Or is it Monte Carlo? I forget

20:37 Europe time 11:37 California time
Dusty: Monaco is the country, Monte Carlo is the casino

19:04 Europe time 10:04 California time
Paul: You get off the boat at all 3 of those? I liked Nice
Paul: Did not go to Cannes
Paul: Monte Carlo was interesting to look at, but the over-opulence of the place made it so I did not really want to do much there other than gawk

19:06 Europe time 10:06 California time
Ray: Some British turistas were having a loud chat about Trump and Reagan this morn at hotel before we left
Ray: I really wanted to ask them how the Brexit was going, but I restrained myself...

20:41 Europe time 11:41 California time
Dusty: Cannes Nice and Monaco sounds like s very full day
Dusty:  I assume you'll dock in Villefrance-sur-Mer.
Dusty: in fact here's exactly what a Disney tour group there looks like http://el-granada.com/france2007/july162007.html

19:46 Europe time 04:46 California time
Duck breast with honey caramel source and grilled almonds.... amazing!

19:43 Europe time 10:43 California time
Paul: Psssst
Paul: When you saw blueberry wine on the menu, that was a hint to get up and leave.

19:47 Europe time 10:47 California time
Kent: That looked super dusty!

21:36 Europe time 12:36 California time
Dusty: English speaking waiter read it to me

21:36 Europe time 12:36 California time
Dusty: Google translate is useless w menus

21:38 Europe time 12:38 California time
Dusty: The duck was amazing

20:15 Europe time 11:15 California time
Kent: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VVrDjJixbSc

20:46 Europe time 11:46 California time
Ray: I hope I get another stamp in my passport for Monaco!
Ray: We are with Luries at Canate restaurant in the Raval neighborhood
Ray: Grungy and awesome
Ray: Photo of menu slogan:

20:51 Europe time 11:51 California time
Ray: The French menu also says in English "$%$# your diet."

20:51 Europe time 11:51 California time
Ray: I just asked how to say that in Spanish
Ray: Guy hands me a Spanish menu which translates roughly to "Happy to ruin your diet." Waiter laughed and agreed when I told him it's not similar...

20:51 Europe time 11:51 California time
Kent: Nice, in the international language

21:37 Europe time 12:37 California time
Ray: I didn't use Google translate.

21:57 Europe time 12:57 California time
Ray: Sophie's cracking up because I flicked food off my elbow and it went about 10 feet
Ray: I'm blaming it on the liter of beer

22:04 Europe time 13:04 California time
Ray: We have a few hours still in Barcelona tomorrow morn - what should we do?

22:04 Europe time 13:04 California time
Paul: Go back to Sitges?

22:05 Europe time 13:05 California time
Paul: Go see the abandoned Olympic sites?

22:07 Europe time 13:07 California time
Ray: Not a bad idea...

22:27 Europe time 13:27 California time
Ray: La Rambla at night
Ray: Terrific place
Ray: Kinda like a tamer version of Bourbon Street.

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

Monday July 16, 2018
bike up Col d’Izoard

Tuesday July 17, 2018
Colle del Nivolet