Tour de France 2018

Tuesday July 17, 2018
Colle del Nivolet

Wednesday July 18, 2018
drive to Alpe d'Huez, France

Thursday July 19, 2018
Tour de France!

drive from Sauze d'Oulx, Italy to Alpe d'Huez, France

09:10 Europe time 18:10 California time

My room in Chalet Chez Nous.
I decided this was the best bargain I've ever had on a hotel room.
Fantastic clean new room in a nice place plus breakfast for 40 euros.
I almost turned down my free breakfast but soon realized I was famished and hadn't really eaten anything yesterday.
I slowly ate more and more until I had enough calories in me to start moving and thinking again.

09:19 Europe time 18:19 California time
The mountains from Sauze d'Oulx

09:20 Europe time 18:20 California time
Downtown Sauze d'Oulx, as it were.

09:21 Europe time 18:21 California time

09:21 Europe time 18:21 California time

Chalet Chez Nous

09:22 Europe time 18:22 California time
Chalet Chez Nous
I decided this was the best bargain I've ever had on a hotel room.
Fantastic clean new room in a nice place plus breakfast for 40 euros.

09:25 Europe time 18:25 California time
The damage to my rear bumper.
I flecked off all the blue paint immediately after taking this picture.
I retrieved my bike from their ski locker and drove back into France.

10:06 Europe time 19:06 California time

Approaching Brianšon
I found a grocery store in Brianšon and bought some snacks.
I didn't know what to expect in Alpe d' Huez, but I expected way too many people.
I had neglected to translate the instructions for my AirBnB until a right before I left for Europe.
My $205 / night room didn't even have sheets, towels, or soap... what a joke....
I started carrying a small bar of soap after last year's experience in a crappy hotel that provided a single bar of soap for all guests to share for the shared shower.
I'd brought my bivy sack and backpacking towel with me.
I bought the cheapest towels I could find in the store in Brianšon.

10:09 Europe time 01:09 California time
Ray: I ripped out the entire front under-spoiler on a rental car in Mexico once - they had no idea.

10:23 Europe time 01:23 California time
Dusty: Yeah they may not notice, but I'm still assuming they will
Dusty:  There were other dings on the bumper, but this is a nice new set of scratches
Dusty:  Blue paint was hers, i wiped it off after i took the pic this morning
Dusty:  In Briancon, deciding what to do next - continuing to drive to Alpe d'Huez is likely
Dusty:  I only got one decent pic of her car, i did not get pic of her apparently

11:07 Europe time 20:07 California time

The road would be closed for the Tour de France both Thursday afternoon and Friday morning

11:07 Europe time 20:07 California time

11:12 Europe time 20:12 California time
Looking southwest toward Parc National des Ecrins

11:14 Europe time 20:14 California time
Looking northwest toward the Col du Lautaret

11:15 Europe time 20:15 California time
PANO - scroll right

11:31 Europe time 20:31 California time

I reached Col du Lautaret, parked the car, and hiked up the hill to the alpine botanical garden to take pictures.
Pic Gaspard 3882m, Le Pave 3831m and Meiji Orientale 3891m tower over Glacier du Lautaret, looking southwest
There were cyclists everywhere here - many headed up from Brianšon to Col du Lautaret, more were headed up from Col du Lautaret to the north side of Col du Galibier.
Last year I'd biked the more famous south side of Galibier.

11:31 Europe time 20:31 California time
Looking south

11:31 Europe time 20:31 California time
Looking east back toward Brianšon

11:35 Europe time 20:35 California time

PANO - scroll right

12:21 Europe time 21:21 California time

Looking south southeast from La Grave
Glacier Tabuchet, Meije Orientale 3891m, and Glacier de la Meije

12:21 Europe time 21:21 California time

La Grave
PANO - scroll right

12:33 Europe time 21:33 California time

12:37 Europe time 21:37 California time
Looking up at all the fence trying to keep boulders off the road

12:38 Europe time 21:38 California time

Lac du Chambon

13:09 Europe time 22:09 California time

Finally I got to Bourg d'Oisons.
I found a place to park and wandered town for a little while.
There were hundreds of cyclists and cars and campers were parked everywhere waiting for the Tour tomorrow.

13:09 Europe time 22:09 California time

here's where I'd rented my bike in 2015.
I got my bike out and biked around to take pictures.

13:19 Europe time 22:19 California time
The road up to Alpe d'Huez is hidden in the trees

13:22 Europe time 22:22 California time
The start of the climb
Since I've already biked up Alpe d'Huez and I've just biked up 4 monsters much bigger than this, I felt no need to bike up Alpe d'Huez again.
Finally I put the bike back in the car and started driving up to Alpe d'Huez

Over the last couple of days my AirBnB host had been asking when I'd get to town.
I gave her my best estimates.
She then turned me over to someone else to get the keys, who in turn told me to arrange to pick up the keys from yet another person.
They told me to text when I started to drive up the mountain, so I did.

13:40 Europe time 04:40 California time
Ray: I see no dent - just scratches
Ray: You're fine
Ray: But how many times do I have to say it:  Video
Ray: We're in Monaco having lunch in this tour
Ray: About to visit Monte Carlo
Ray: A tour bus in front of us just backed into a stanchion in the parking garage - made a five-foot tall dent in bus
Ray: Driver's having a much worse day than you!

13:46 Europe time 04:46 California time
Dusty: I've got that picture hanging in my dining room

13:56 Europe time 22:56 California time

13:59 Europe time 22:59 California time

14:02 Europe time 23:02 California time

14:05 Europe time 23:05 California time

14:08 Europe time 23:08 California time

14:11 Europe time 23:11 California time
Dutch corner

14:11 Europe time 23:11 California time
Dutch corner

14:11 Europe time 23:11 California time
Dutch corner

There was a painted border between Dutch corner and the Belgium corner up the hill!

I got to Alpe d'Huez and found the ugly ski condo complex with my AirBnB - Soleil d'Huez, #508
However nobody replied to my texts... so I couldn't get in.
I started texting everyone, finally somebody got back to me and told me they'd be here in 10 minutes.
Meanwhile I struggled to find a place to park.
Finally I found there were still a few empty parking spaces in the very back of the lot, and I met the gal who let me in to my condo.
She then indicated she needed a 50 euro cash cleaning deposit, and I'd get the deposit back when she inspected the condo when I checked out.
I told her I planned to leave at 4am Friday morning, and that would be a problem.
Finally she agreed to not collect the deposit, and she gave me instructions where to leave the keys.
I was really not pleased that they expected me to drop the keys off on my way out of town.
I was planned to lock the keys in the condo, but I later realized that was impossible because the door won't shut when it is locked.

15:07 Europe time 00:07 California time

My absurdly small condo.
It wasn't even the same condo pictured online - it was the same layout but mine was much crappier, with white stucko walls instead of wood
This is the entire thing, except for an absurdly small bathroom and absurdly small bedroom, both hidden behind the so called kitchen.

16:14 Europe time 01:14 California time
They left strict instructions not to place bikes on the balcony.
However the ski lockers are only big enough for skis, not a bike, so they can kiss my butt, my bike goes on the balcony.

16:50 Europe time 01:50 California time
While the condo was a tiny ugly joke, the view was excellent.
I had a beer on my porch and relaxed for an hour or so before heading our to see Alpe d'Huez and the TDF preparations.

15:44 Europe time 06:44 California time
Ray: It's a pretty good view
Ray: This is the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous tour
Ray: Everyone on the tour thought they were doing well to do afford a Disney cruise

15:48 Europe time 06:48 California time
Dusty: Arrived Alpe d'Huez
Dusty:   Must be over 1000 cyclists coming up that hill now and hundreds more in the valley below going to or coming from other climbs
Dusty:  I don't feel the need since i did it 3 yrs ago, it is sweltering hot, and the rides I just did blow this one away
Dusty:  Drive in was gorgeous.
Dusty: All the 21 turns are already in action, at least the ones with any shade
Dusty:  Dutch corner was busiest..
Dusty: There is now a Belgian corner just uphill (not an official turn I don't think)
Dusty: And they drew a border between them!

15:51 Europe time 06:51 California time
Dusty: It is crowded and there are still people pouring in
Dusty:  Tents everywhere they are legal
Dusty:  Ironically there are relatively few people around me in the ski chalets and there are even a couple of free parking spots way in the back
Dusty:  They started checking traffic about the time I started driving up the hill, I've got a list of closures.

15:56 Europe time 06:56 California time
Paul: Dusty, are the people on the Route all there a full day early for the event, or is there something else to see today? 
You going to grab some beers and join them?
Better than watching French TV I'd bet

16:09 Europe time 07:09 California time
Dusty: They are waiting for the Tour tomorrow, nothing to see other than 1000s of people streaming into a small ski village...
Dusty: it is already quite the event...beer is next
Dusty:  I'm pretty worked, just walking town will be enough for me today, not headed up or downhill.
Dusty: Some poor souls were walking up that thing with groceries...tentative plan is to be as close to the finish line as i can get and be in the crowd in the awards ceremony getting sprayed with champagne....

16:10 Europe time 07:10 California time
Dusty: I would assume the best spots were taken days ago

16:10 Europe time 07:10 California time
Dusty: Not just earlier today

16:16 Europe time 07:16 California time
Paul: Hmmmmmm
Paul: Seems like the appropriate cadance should be: Drink 3 beers and meet people, go back to the room to nap 3 hours; repeat approximately 4X, then watch silly race

16:22 Europe time 07:22 California time
Dusty: Today is much, much, much needed rest day...I honestly can't believe I've cycled 4 monsters successfully back to back, in woulda been happy with 2 and very happy with 3..
Dusty: I am so far into bonus territory I can't believe it...
Dusty: I literally don't recognize myself in some ways.. I may go for a 5th monster on Friday....

16:25 Europe time 07:25 California time
Dusty: Alpe d'Huez is about 1000m vertical climb..
Dusty: mine were 1515m, 1607m, 1385m, and 2028m so far

16:55 Europe time 07:55 California time
Dusty: this may be entertaining....i hear a dj and crowd somewhere not too far away, will investigate soonest

16:58 Europe time 07:58 California time
Kent: Nice!  I bet it's crowded
Kent: watching stage 11 on tv now
Kent:   This year has been different than the last few tours and it's been good.
Here's my alpine solo rack
Kent:  Not much to it
Kent:  Maybe I should bring more
Kent:  Part of the fun
Kent:  Maybe I can get a spacewalk in the next couple of weeks!

17:01 Europe time 08:01 California time
Paul: Dusty, I would assume you are sending pics with your descriptions (otherwise your descriptions make no sense) but the pics are not coming through for some reason

17:02 Europe time 08:02 California time
Dusty: Yeah they keep bouncing on my end..
Dusty: bouygues 3g

17:55 Europe time 02:55 California time

21:20 Europe time 12:20 California time
Dusty: Jed am I remembering that you are a fan of (hopes pic goes through)

21:52 Europe time 12:52 California time
Jed: Got the pic
Jed: Looks mighty tasty in that setting
Jed: Don't recall that beer though

21:53 Europe time 12:53 California time
Paul: 8.5 percent blonde beer
Paul: Strong stuff

22:05 Europe time 13:05 California time
Dusty: I finally remembered that I liked that beer from Emeril Lagasse's Table 10 in the Venetian ... very very yummy!

22:05 Europe time 13:05 California time
Jed: Sounds like something I would like (and then forget liking)

18:08 Europe time 03:08 California time

Soleil d'Huez

18:11 Europe time 03:11 California time

I tried to get seated at a well reviewed place... they were full.
I realized every place that was any good was likely to be full and kept wandering.

18:29 Europe time 03:29 California time

18:52 Europe time 03:52 California time

After wandering all over Alpe d'Huez and finding not much of anything all that interesting I got to the bottom of town.
People drink beer, watch the sun set, and applaud the cyclists who have just gotten to the top.
Unfortunately it was packed, I couldn't find anywhere to sit nonetheless eat.

20:33 Europe time 05:33 California time

I walked uphill briefly and was seated at L'Alaska nearby.
I quickly selected the Menu Montagnard.

19:16 Europe time 04:16 California time

Salad Grenobloise

19:30 Europe time 04:30 California time

Tartiflette - bacon, potatoes, onions, cream, reblochon cheese
The service was slow at best, the food nothing special, but I was sitting down and eating.

20:02 Europe time 05:02 California time

20:29 Europe time 05:29 California time

After dinner I had a complementary glass of champagne and a few snacks at the Tour de France store across the street.

18:37 Europe time 09:37 California time
Ray: Just sending random pics from my day in Cannes/Nice/Monaco because I have free wifi in port - I'm about to lose it and return to land of $$$ per MB cruise bullshit

18:40 Europe time 09:40 California time
Ray: Most of pics are on my good camera
Ray: Was a big day of picture taking - sort of a preview for the Mediterranean motorcycle/hiking/climbing trip I realize now I must do
Ray: The climbing around Nice and Monaco must be outstanding
Ray: Amazing alpen limestone everywhere - huge cliffs, plus amazing scenery and fun euro roads.

18:41 Europe time 09:41 California time
Ray: Where's your helmet, Kent?

18:42 Europe time 09:42 California time
Ray: Departing on tender boat for Disney Magic.

18:43 Europe time 09:43 California time
Dusty: I assume you are in Villefrance sur Mer?

18:44 Europe time 09:44 California time
Ray: Cannes.

18:44 Europe time 09:44 California time
Kent: It's world famous sport climbing on the Mediterranean
Kent:  Les calanques
Kent:  Looks beautiful!  Wish the f1 race there was more competitive
Kent:  I've got a helmet, but not in picture
Kent:  It's with my climbing clothes

18:45 Europe time 09:45 California time
Ray: Good! We saw the start of the Monaco Grand Prix track
Ray: Wokld be killer to see that! They set it up for 2 months - race is two hours.

18:52 Europe time 09:52 California time
Kent: There is never any passing on that track
Kent:  The race is really qualifying and the start
Kent:  In 1964 a Mini Cooper s won!

19:10 Europe time 10:10 California time
Dusty: Got seated and placed my order
Dusty:  At least one place I looked at was full
Dusty:  Not too many people wandering town, but it is early and they all look rich, not like they are among the 1000s sleeping in tents or rvs
Dusty:  Found the 'top' of the climb which i recognize vaguely from 2015, theres a restaurant with a great downhill view so you can watch everyone's last minute of the climb
Dusty:  Technically the finish is at the top of town, the TDF and purists use that one.

19:11 Europe time 10:11 California time
Dusty: Very very touristy..
Dusty: hearing zero English

22:04 Europe time 13:04 California time
Dusty: Sat next to a German family of 4 at dinner
Dusty:  2 teenage boys
Dusty:  I quickly noticed two of their sons - one looks a lot like the father and the other alot like the mother, which reminds me of my own kids
Dusty: After a while we saw a mother and daughter that had been waiting for the father to bike up hill - the father nearly collapsed
Dusty:  The kids were poking fun (we are just far enough away they can't hear)
Dusty:  I made the mistake of saying I did it in 2015
Dusty:  They quickly pointed out that the real finish is another 3km higher, which I acknowledged..
Dusty: the mother then said both boys did it today..
Dusty: twice...
Dusty:  later a father and young son sat down at the same table..
Dusty: I asked if they had come up..
Dusty: the last 4km from Alpe, the son is 8 years old

19:14 Europe time 10:14 California time
Kent: Cool Dusty
Kent:  Will be interesting to see what team sky does
Kent:  Froome is behind his teammate
Kent:  Going out on a limb
Kent:  :)  Fromme will win tomorrow

19:33 Europe time 10:33 California time
Paul: So Dusty, your hotel is a few turns down the hill from the town on the top? Can you still drive up there or are you walking up and down the mountain each time?

19:34 Europe time 10:34 California time
Paul: Google maps says that's a 28 minute drive for 6 km
Paul: Yikes!

22:08 Europe time 13:08 California time
Dusty: Cell service is awful here, plus my battery was nearly dead forever while l was out
Dusty:  Walked much of the main drag of the town, the coolest spot by far is the top where everyone cheers on the cyclists
Dusty:  My dinner was not good and the service was pretty awful, that place needs an intervention L'Alaska
Dusty:  Heard a few American tables there, one of clearly hampton level rich ass@#$#

22:09 Europe time 13:09 California time
Kent: So nice Dusty!  I'm going crazy waiting to leave for vaca!  Are you at the liveliest pub right now?  So cool to see it crescendo to the end on one of the most clsssic stages ever
Kent:  It's looking like it could be "the" stage of the tour too
Kent:  Go out and party tonight and get up early tomorrow!!!!!

22:10 Europe time 13:10 California time
Dusty: Parking is nonexistent, you don't drive, you walk or bike

22:20 Europe time 13:20 California time
Dusty: I don't hear any partying
Dusty:  These ski resorts are a perfect amphitheater, you can hear a mouse fart fron 200m...everyone is going to bed cause tomorrow will be a long day...

22:22 Europe time 13:22 California time
Dusty: Saw the huge area for the trucks equipment etc..
Dusty: i assume teams buses may go in there too?

22:25 Europe time 13:25 California time
Kent: Do you have a bottle of vino for tomorrow?
Where are you going to post up
Kent:  At the switchback? 

22:36 Europe time 13:36 California time
Paul: Nobody's going to bed but you
Paul: You're only going to be asleep for 3 hours anyway for @#$ sake
Paul: Don't miss EVERY party

22:39 Europe time 13:39 California time
Paul: There will be bubbles in the square again tomorrow morning, and Rays beach girl is doing nude handstands as we speak in the Huez center
Paul: You are missing it all!

22:41 Europe time 13:41 California time
Kent: It's 10:40pm and I just drove across France to see this stage race
Kent:  Time for bed
Kent:  :)

Tuesday July 17, 2018
Colle del Nivolet

Wednesday July 18, 2018
drive to Alpe d'Huez, France

Thursday July 19, 2018
Tour de France!