Tour de France 2018

Thursday July 19, 2018
Tour de France!

Friday July 20, 2018
bike up Col de l’Iseran

Saturday July 21, 2018
Grenoble, France to Geneva

bike up Col de l’Iseran 2770m / 9,088' from Bourg St Maurice 815m / 2,674' - 3rd highest paved road in the Alps - 1968m vertical, 48km uphill - longest Col in France

I woke up way too early in the dark,
cleaned the AirBnB so it was spotless,
got my bike off the balcony and into the car,
got the pack into the car,
dropped off the keys,
and started driving down Alpe d'Huez toward Bourg St Maurice.

Ironically yesterday's TDF stage started in Bourg St Maurice,
and it takes me almost as long to drive there as it would took the cyclists to ride to Alpe d'Huez.

I was amazed how clean it was, there was no trash anywhere on Alpe d'Huez ... except Dutch corner looked like a frat party had exploded....

05:56 Europe time 14:56 California time

Dutch corner

05:56 Europe time 14:56 California time
Dutch corner

I drove 2-1/2 hours to Bourg St Maurice and tried to find a place to park.
There were no parking signs everywhere... except at the huge sheltered parking lot for the shopping center at the very base of the climb!
The lot closed at 8pm, if I wasn't back by then I'd have much bigger problems than having the car towed.
I changed into my cycling outfit and started heading up the mountain.

07:43 Europe time 22:43 California time
Ray: Good finish picture, Dusty! We are finishing up breakfast, about to head to Roma! Everyone's on board for Capitoline museum.

07:46 Europe time 22:46 California time
Kent: Say hi to Romulus and Remus and she wolf
Kent:  :)

08:04 Europe time 23:04 California time
Ray: Can't wait for kiddos to see that
Ray: My favorite 3 words of our tour today: "On your own."

09:22 Europe time 18:22 California time

10:07 Europe time 19:07 California time

10:07 Europe time 19:07 California time

Looking north, downhill back the way I came.

10:07 Europe time 19:07 California time

Looking south / uphill

10:33 Europe time 19:33 California time

Tignes Dam on the Isère river, looking south / uphill

10:34 Europe time 19:34 California time

PANO - scroll right

11:05 Europe time 20:05 California time

Lac du Chevril, looking south / uphill

11:05 Europe time 20:05 California time

PANO - scroll right

11:18 Europe time 20:18 California time

Val d'Isère from the northeast
I'd heard about Val d'Isère years ago since it is the home of an annual neuroradiology conference, and I had worked at a medical device company
I wasn't too impressed, it was just another ski town, so I kept going.

11:29 Europe time 20:29 California time

Past the town of Val d'Isère looking east.

11:30 Europe time 20:30 California time

Looking west back into the town of Val d'Isère

11:44 Europe time 20:44 California time

PANO - scroll right

11:51 Europe time 20:51 California time

11:56 Europe time 20:56 California time

11:59 Europe time 20:59 California time

11:59 Europe time 20:59 California time

Looking northwest back into the town of Val d'Isère

12:03 Europe time 21:03 California time

Looking east ... finally the climb starts in earnest, I'll make one long switchback up the mountain

12:31 Europe time 21:31 California time

the town of Val d'Isère

12:34 Europe time 21:34 California time

the town of Val d'Isère

12:51 Europe time 21:51 California time

Looking northeast, Lac du Chevril is in the distance

12:51 Europe time 21:51 California time

PANO - scroll right

12:51 Europe time 21:51 California time

The weather started looking more and more like the 80% chance of thunderstorms that were forecast, and the scenery included too many ski lifts for my preference.
I kept heading uphill and finally got to the Col...

13:48 Europe time 22:48 California time

Looking northeast toward Mont Pourri 3779m

13:48 Europe time 22:48 California time

PANO - scroll right
Looking southwest to northwest

13:50 Europe time 22:50 California time

Looking north

13:50 Europe time 22:50 California time

13:50 Europe time 22:50 California time
Looking south

14:00 Europe time 23:00 California time
The top!
And its starting to sprinkle, and I'm 48km from my car!

14:01 Europe time 23:01 California time

I headed back downhill... quickly.
I had no need for more pictures, I'd already taken pictures on the way up when it was sunny and nice.
Most cyclists head downhill as quickly as possible all the time, I always stop for pictures.
Today was the exception.
On the way down I saw one of those signs that tells you how fast you are going.
I was going 68kmh, or 42mph...
I haven't gone that fast in a long, long time on a bike, and this is not at all a fast speed for a road bike going downhill

14:11 Europe time 23:11 California time

16:07 Europe time 07:07 California time
Paul: Nice Ray!!

16:08 Europe time 07:08 California time
Paul: I've been obsessing about what I would do with 8 hours in Rome.....

16:10 Europe time 07:10 California time
Paul: Start in St Peters Square, the Square itself is awesome
Paul: If the lines were not too long, go into the Basillica (but no time for the dome or museum- those would eat up too much time)
Paul: Then cab over to the Pantheon, walk to Piazza Navona and then Trevi Fountain
Paul: Those are all close and fairly quick

16:12 Europe time 07:12 California time
Paul: Then walk up to the Capitol Museum (love the piazza on the hill), and maybe an hour in the museum
Paul: Walk down the Forum and to the Colusseum, but not going in

16:12 Europe time 07:12 California time
Paul: Then a cab over to the square in Trestevere and spend the last couple of hours having some food and wine in an outdoor cafe

16:13 Europe time 07:13 California time
Paul: That's seeing a lot, but not horribly rushed

16:15 Europe time 07:15 California time
Ray: Eight hours?! More like 4! Meetup on ship for morning transportation to Rome was at 8
Ray: We caught taxi to coloseum after dropoff at vatican at 10:45
Ray: Walked coloseum, forum area
Ray: Then snack and cold drinks
Ray: Then 45 mins in museo
Ray: Then taxi to Pantheon
Ray: Sophie meltdown! Lunch and cold drinks
Ray: Left there at 3:10 - no time for Trevi! Had to fight with people cutting in line at taxi stand at Pantheon
Ray: Taxi to meetup area in San Pietro
Ray: Quick gelato
Ray: Then walked to meetup spot at nearby Domus Artis store
Ray: Wait 10 minutes for stragglers
Ray: I'm typing this and walking with group to tour bus
Ray: Will take 90-105 minutes to get back to port
Ray: And that's our day! But rave review: Annabelle said she liked Rome even better than Florence!

16:15 Europe time 07:15 California time
Kent: So cool Ray and family!  Great memories!  Something about being in the same room with 1000+ year old statues
Kent:  I wouldn't go into the colosseum again either
Kent:  Only because there are so many other things to see right there

16:17 Europe time 07:17 California time
Kent: I agree with Annabelle
Kent:  :)

16:17 Europe time 07:17 California time
Ray: Yeah, we didn't go in Coloseum or Forum
Ray: You see most everything anyway, and the walk is pleasant
Ray: (for me, anyway!)

16:40 Europe time 07:40 California time
Ray: It was hot - but felt about 10 degrees cooler than last year
Ray: Being in the shade was very pleasant
Ray: Now on bus
Ray: Traffic is insane, as normal
Ray: Sure wish we had time for Trastavere

17:00 Europe time 08:00 California time
Paul: 4 hours?!?! Holy hell
Paul: Yeah, I guess I would have done almost exactly what you did
Paul: Maybe not the Capitol Museum, but if a break from the heat was needed, can't think of a better central one

17:05 Europe time 08:05 California time
Paul: Weather app says it was 91 today in Rome, and on August 2, 2017 (the full day we had in Rome) it was 104

17:19 Europe time 08:19 California time
Ray: Wow
Ray: Yeah, crazy, but hot as it was today, it seemed a dawdle compared to last year
Ray: Now I know why
Ray: I'd sure stay at Albergo de Sole again
Ray: What a great place
Ray: Was telling fam how it neat it was to see the Pantheon Square with no people
Ray: At Capitoline, had some flashbacks - pretty sure Amy and I went there in '98
Ray: Dusty - you sleep in this morn?

17:22 Europe time 08:22 California time
Paul: Yeah, I liked being at the Pantheon early before anyone arrived and you could look in all of the ancient nooks and crannies of the exterior before they set up all of the barriers for the day
Paul: I've now stayed at two of those hotels overlooking the Pantheon
Paul: Super central, hard to beat

17:25 Europe time 08:25 California time
Paul: And I completely agree with Annabelle
Paul: I think Rome is in a completely different category than Florence.
I feel like I could go back to Rome (or even Naples) many times without getting tired of them, but I like a lot of other places in Italy better than Florence and Venice

17:29 Europe time 08:29 California time
Ray: The tourist sharks at Colosseum are merciless when you have wife and daughters with you!
Ray: Amy keeps saying she wants to go back to Venice - it was nicer in January 1998! I would never again go there in the summer, (tho I really enjoyed our kayak trip.) I want to do several days in Sicily, Naples, and other southern Italy spots
Ray: But who knows - so many great places to go!

17:30 Europe time 08:30 California time
Ray: Basically, I like Europe! This was my 5th time there

17:34 Europe time 08:34 California time
Paul: When you get back I want to hear your kids impressions of a week in Barcelona
Paul: Probably a very different experience staying in one place for a full week rather than the Disney cruise with 4 hours to see cities that themselves need a week to experience

17:37 Europe time 08:37 California time
Ray: I could have skipped the cruise :)

20:44 Europe time 11:44 California time
Kent: Dusty
Kent:  Unusual to not hear a peep from you for past 23 hours
Kent:  Were you able to get your ride done?  

20:55 Europe time 11:55 California time
Dusty: Drove 3h, Climbed Col de l'Iseran 2770m 48km, a real monster
Dusty:  Had decent weather on the way up, clouds and sprinkles chased me down but it never rained on me up there
Dusty:  It was nicish, but was all ski lifts and no real alpine (cows and farms etc) at alpine heights, which was a bit of a letdown after 4 other gorgeous cols

Most of the problem at the top of Col de l'Iseran was the weather - sunlight would have made the glaciers gorgeous.

Dusty: Drove back to Grenoble, returned bike (very very easy), got gas (not easy, took 30m or so to find a gas station on google maps, drive to it, and get gas), parked car at train station to ask where rental car return is at the train station, rental car company was closed but nice guy at the other rental car company gave me the address (other side of train station in parking garage, a longish drive)

Then it started raining really, really hard for a while.... it did not let up....crazy wind blowing down the valley...

Dusty: Then spent 45-60m trying to get car out of outdoor train station parking lot during an Alps downpour.
Dusty:  Ticket wouldn't work in either exit gate, nobody picks up the call for help button, information booth showed me the other pay station, then washed their hands of me, it said ticket was no good, finally someone answered the phone and after about 5 calls they decided to let me out.
Dusty:  Then eventually found rental car company return in dungeon of garage (can you say make a sign!) found secret hidden drop box, barely got car almost in one of those spots, and am checked into hotel
Dusty:  Stress level kind of extreme right now, I expected a hassle dropped off the car but nowhere near this much

21:03 Europe time 12:03 California time
Dusty: I couldn't fall asleep last night, only got like 4h sleep..
Dusty: usually i can fall asleep but wake up to early and/or can't get back to sleep
Dusty:  I've been so busy I didn't read any texts until now..
Dusty: cray cray busy..
Dusty: but now it is over, just a train to Geneva tomorrow..
Dusty: no more cars or parking..
Dusty: car was fine until i needed to park it, even driving in Grenoble wasn't too bad...
Dusty: small towns were fine...was so tired this morning assumed I'd get a hotel near base of
climb cause I'd be too tired for 90m drive back to Grenoble

21:22 Europe time 12:22 California time
Kent: You're alive!   That car sounds like a stresser that I would not like
Kent:  You kicked ass! 
If you have some time in Geneva
Kent:  Museum of art and history isn't bad and it's free
Kent:  Lots of Egyptian and some great art
Kent:  Rembrandt, Pissarro, cezanne, renoir, etc.

21:39 Europe time 12:39 California time
Dusty: I expected major stresss dropping off car, it just unfortunately exceeded my expectations

21:39 Europe time 12:39 California time
Dusty: That sounds like a plan...

21:40 Europe time 12:40 California time
Dusty: Love art history...
Dusty: shoulda majored in it...

21:41 Europe time 12:41 California time
Paul: Or you could do Annecy
Paul: New and different city

21:42 Europe time 12:42 California time
Dusty: I am also starting to second guess Innsbrook next August..
Dusty: thinking Switzerland and trains sounds easy and fun, and there are several Swiss passes I'd love to climb
Dusty: The French have some great alps, but they are non-trivial to get to

21:46 Europe time 12:46 California time
Dusty: And Austria and Italian also non-trivial to get to
Dusty:  I am also still dying to see Aosta, I'm sure I'd climb something there next year if I went into that area
Dusty:  Also really would love to Tour de Monte Rosa again, BabyDance2019! We could snow slog up to the top of Europe!  And Rince Cochon the Pig beer says oink...

Rince Cochon the Pig was the Belgian beer I was drinking, the same beer we'd discussed yesterday

21:48 Europe time 12:48 California time
Dusty: unless you spoonfeed me the bus schedules for Annecy Geneva I won't even consider it
Dusty:  They were a pain to find at home, I wasn't sure where they stops were, and right now I'm done dealing with any potential stress
Dusty:  Train to Genava = 0 stress, 0 is hard to compete with.

21:49 Europe time 12:49 California time
Dusty: Both the beauty and accessibility of an Alp merit consideration..
Dusty: of course one can influence the other

21:57 Europe time 12:57 California time
Kent: I'm so amped to leave! 2 days left
Kent:  About to leave work for holiday.
I'll be on vacation by 6:30 tonight! 
Final packing refinements are on sched for tonight

22:00 Europe time 13:00 California time
Dusty: I was gonna ask your exact flights to see if we have any overlap

22:25 Europe time 13:25 California time
Paul: Dusty, check out Chambery and Aix les Baines on TripAdvisor
Paul: All of the fast trains between Grenoble and Geneva (about 7 per day) stop at both places so either would be an easy stop
Paul: Chambery looks to have a cool old town, and Aix has some minor Roman stuff and thermal baths if nard-soaking interests you

22:26 Europe time 13:26 California time
Paul: Roman stuff looks very minor though

23:08 Europe time 14:08 California time
Dusty: So with all that floundering, everything closed at either 2200 or 2230
Dusty:  I am at le Cartel bar ordering a Syrah Mule and Plateua Degustation...

23:10 Europe time 14:10 California time
Paul: Bar food! Yum!   I once feel asleep in the afternoon while staying in a hotel in Jerome
Paul: I woke at 10 and the only thing left to eat in that town was a bag of potato chips from the Saloon
Paul: Good times

23:12 Europe time 14:12 California time
Dusty: I always seem to have a bag of some local variant of barbecue potato chips in my room..
Dusty: problem is I'll eat the whole damn bag, so at least I'm buying smaller bags

23:13 Europe time 14:13 California time
Dusty:  Gave some of my extra beer to the dudes at the bike shop
Dusty:  That whole thing was perfect, the bike was close enough to flawless

23:15 Europe time 14:15 California time
Dusty: Just for you Paul..
Dusty: i scarfed down a Big Mac meal after today's ride..
Dusty: it was right there, I needed a pile of calories and fat in a hurry with no stress..
Dusty: and it was damn good....only fast food of the trip I believe, certainly only McDs

23:18 Europe time 14:18 California time
Paul: No shame with McDonalds in those situations
Paul: Only when there are other choices and a conscious decision is made to eat it

23:18 Europe time 14:18 California time
Dusty: Was going to eat up on the Alps, which is part of the point if riding up there..
Dusty: the only place on the way up was a ski resort 1km out of the way on a bad road, (and there was a guy changing his tire there.
Dusty: no way).
Dusty: at the top the prices were so high attitude so thick in couldn't stomach it, plus it looked like it was time to get off the mountain..
Dusty: looked like crappy weather everywhere, and i was 48km from my car....can't believe it never rained until Grenoble

23:22 Europe time 14:22 California time
Dusty: Can't believe i got ox tail as a surprise for lunch in the Alps a few days ago!!!
Dusty: on the way out of Alpe d'Huez, there was almost no trash on the road, it was almost all bagged up every hundred feet or so, god people are so different here..
Dusty: the only exception was Dutch corner, it looked like a fraternity convention had exploded

23:24 Europe time 14:24 California time
Dusty: quite but of start of a semi raucus party going on here and this drink is very nice

23:25 Europe time 14:25 California time
Dusty: Someone is opening presents.
Dusty: can't figure out if bday or shower, I think bday

23:16 Europe time 08:16 California time

23:26 Europe time 08:26 California time

23:27 Europe time 08:27 California time

Thursday July 19, 2018
Tour de France!

Friday July 20, 2018
bike up Col de l’Iseran

Saturday July 21, 2018
Grenoble, France to Geneva