Day 3: Col du Petit Saint Bernard
Up and early this morning excited for the first day of biking. We packed our day bags and fueled up on a delicious breakfast. Once the vans were loaded up with bikes, gear, and riders, we were off.
The route for the day started at Bourg-Saint-Maurice, heading up 24km to the ski resort of La RosiÃƒÂ¨re, and then another 8km to the Col du Petit Saint-Bernard. The very good bikers (Dave, Marc, & Mike) started at the bottom and tackled the entire route, while the rest started a few kilometers up the road. Meanwhile, Matt was perfectly happy to let Ben drop him off in La RosiÃƒÂ¨re (same as 2018) knowing he’d be coming back up the other side of the mountain later in the afternoon. Meanwhile, Eileen and Jo strolled around the ski village after all riders were on the road.
Arriving first to the pass “€ which was not even close given his head start (yeah! totally won that climb!) “€ Matt recalled the advice we were given last year to pedal a few extra hundred meters and cross the border to get a cappuccino at the ITALIAN coffee shop. Real tough break having to pass the time at an Italian coffee shop in the Alps with great weather and a nice view of Mont Blanc.
After the rest of the gang and the van arrived, additional cappuccinos were consumed. Because the weather was good today (unlike 2018), Dave’s next plan for the day was to continue onward into Italy, dropping down about 12.5km to a pizzeria/pasta place in La Thuile. Matt is not Julian Alaphilippe on disc brakes, so to make the timing work, off he went ahead of the gang. Arriving at the restaurant in La Thuile, the bad news was the restaurant wasn’t serving pizza today (sorry, Ben). Fortunately, Italy is pretty good at pasta, too.
Once we had enough food and another round of espressos, the day’s route now reversed all the way back to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. The catch, however, is that the climb from La Thuile back to France “€ while only 12.5km “€ is much steeper than the climb from the other side and you always get a nasty headwind in that direction.
So, with that in mind, the alpha riders (Dave, Marc, & Mike) headed back to France by bike and everybody else hitched a ride in the van to the top “€ except Matt, who jumped off the van about 6km from the top and rode back into France on two wheels as the Tour de France gods intended!!! (Also, you know, the rest of the riders already put in plenty of work on the French side earning their well-deserved lifts out of Italy.)
After traversing the pass, the 32km descent back to Bourg-Saint-Maurice was underway. On the descent, a tree fell and made the road impassable for cars and trucks. The timing of this was crazy because only Mike and Matt were still behind the tree when it fell (and found the road blocked with only one other motorcyclist), but Ben and the van had only passed Matt about 5 minutes earlier. So, while Matt didn’t see the tree fall (likely do to stiff winds, or perhaps the sonic boom Dave & Marc left in their wake) it couldn’t have happened more than mere minutes earlier.
Fortunately both Matt and Mike navigated their bikes around the tree and continued descending at speed to meet up at Le Tonneau (our trusty Bourg-Saint-Maurice cafe from 2018) marking a successful day of biking up, down, up and down again over the Col du Petit Saint Bernard.
Only one more 12km stretch of biking was in store for the day, which was a flat ride from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Aime-la-Plagne on the bike path along the L’IsÃƒÂ¨re river. We then loaded up the vans and headed back to the Chalet for a late afternoon snack and an Italian-themed dinner in honor of our bike route today.
Tomorrow is a Tour day with a slightly earlier start, so off to sleep we go.