Jim, Andy and I had arrived at the parc near Bourg d’Oisans the evening before, following a flight from Liverpool to Geneva and a drive into the mountains. We assumed the convoluted route from Geneva airport to the Grenoble motorway was a result of a 9-year-old sat nav unit, brought from England and switched on without Swiss maps. It was, but the significance of this was to be revealed on the way home as we copped a 28 Euro vignette for 2km on a Swiss motorway! The learning is: stay in France.
Our cycling friends Neil and Adrian had arrived the day before, and already completed an epic 103 mile ride with 4000m of ascent in 3 climbs. I once did the Manchester 100 but it only had 40m of uphill. My thing is mountain biking, which is like interval training, with 100m uphill, 100m downhill repeated over and over. Trepidation set in. We arrived at the campsite to find Neil and Adrian in full carb-loading mode. Fortunately they had catered for us and we loaded for the epic rides ahead.
The holiday home was basic, but comfortable and quiet at night. We arose to sunshine and a warming day. The first task was to collect the hire bikes*, which had been pre-ordered by Eurocamp from a small cycle hire outfit in Bourg d’Oisans. The bikes were branded with the shop logo but they looked OK and had good quality components and carbon frames. The brakes seemed very good – and we needed them. As it turned out, Jim needed more brakes than were fitted!
The shop mechanic set the bikes up and we trundled into town for breakfast before heading up Alpe d’Huez. The others seemed to think a croissant and a coffee was sufficient breakfast for 90 minutes uphill cycling. I demurred and bought a banana from the market stall (a great Saturday feature in Bourg d’Oisans).