Last summer, I went on my annual bike tour with 44|5 Cycling on their Northern Alps Highroads Tour. Of course, John + Gerry did not disappoint, and of course, I didn’t really think about the trip nor thought much of it (not to mention, train) until it happened. I have a habit of doing things without thinking and dealing with things ‘when it happens.’ This doesn’t always work in my favour however, because I’ve missed flights or gotten myself into treacherous situations… but that’s what makes life so exciting, and I would not have it any other way!
John and Gerry provides us with daily itineraries and ride maps but I have to admit, I NEVER look at them. I may glance at our route on the morning of, but the numbers and maps don’t really mean much to me as I don’t tend to analyze my bike rides. I never anticipate a hard ride until it happens because I’m too busy focusing in the moment (yet still reminiscing in glee about our previous ride). Hey, I just want to ride my bike!! And sometimes, it’s better to let Mother Nature simply surprise you. 😉
When I took this photo, I had one of those “moments of dread” when you finally realize what you got yourself into, and you feel like you are trying to achieve the impossible (and the world is about to end!). Have you ever had those? It finally hit me how difficult this bike tour was going to be, paired with the fact that I didn’t ‘train’— and I felt the weight of the world crushing down on me for a few seconds. Fortunately for me, moments like those disappear as quickly as they come.
It was on this stretch of road when I realized that I had to take in and revel in ALL these moments because this exact moment will never happen again.
Riding my bicycle in France? Riding my bicycle up to a fabled mountain top? I don’t want it to end!! When negative thoughts sneak in, I quickly brush them aside and remind myself that these are moments I will never get back. I physically slowed down on my bicycle in attempt to make the moment last longer. I also really had to pee but I just continued to pedal on… slowly. This was definitely worth the discomfort.
There is really no rush to go anywhere when you are riding in the alps.
I was clearly oblivious of the long, hot and challenging route up to our Mountain of the Day… but all for the better. Sometimes it’s better to not know! Luckily for me, I really felt NO stress, fear, anxiety, over-thinking… or any of that stuff during my ride that day (except for a couple quick moments of dread). I do recall it being really freaking hard, but in the end, all we remember is the glory of it all.
As the climb was coming to an end and I was finally able to see the summit, I realized how tired I was. I was so deep in flow state and literally forgot to eat. Did I just do that whole thing on adrenaline?! Holy crap! Another one of those negative thoughts made it’s way into my head as I was only a few kilometers to the top, trying to hinder my success, but again, that unpleasant moment went away as fast as it came. Soon I was at the top of the mountain, basking in all it’s glory… lining up trying to get a picture of the col sign while everyone sitting above at the little coffee shop was laughing at me trying to get the perfect angle. I did just do this for the ‘gram, k.
Of course, what goes up, must come down and I did one of what is now my MOST FAVORITE DESCENT IN THE WORLD: down the mountain from Col du Glandon towards lunch! I say it all the time (“omg, that’s the best descent ever”), but this time, it truly was! One day, I would love to climb it but I am very satisfied otherwise.
I was stuffed from the food, stiff and exhausted from our Mountain of the Day, and man, was it ever HOT outside… but how could I say no?! Adrenaline was clearly still pumping. No matter how tempting it is to call it a day, when on two-wheelz (and in France) the answer will always be: YESSSS PLEASEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A gastronomic French affair, as per usual, after a long day on the bike:
Bicycle-touring vacations like this are exactly what I live for!! I highly highly recommend 44|5 Cycling Tours if you want to explore Europe on two-wheelz. They’ve been my trusty tour guides for years and have NEVER disappoint.