Sunday, 25 July 2010

Swiss Roll - Day 6, Le Thillot to Basel, 74 miles

Wake up feeling awful, with sore throat and stuffy head, but not so bad that I can't cycle.

Ready to set off at 9.30 and the cycle path is literally outside the gate of the hotel, so no chance of getting lost.

Ride 5 miles to the base of the Ballon d'Alsace and set straight up. The mountain is 3,841 feet high, starting from 2,000 feet, and the climb is at a healthy 7% over 9 km (5 miles).

Swiss Roll Day 6 - Ballon d'Alsace Ascent

It's roughly half the climb of Mont Ventoux, which James and I rode in 2007 - although that was without panniers!

The road winds and doubles back through forest and the traffic is very light, although we are passed by several club cyclists near the top - although they're not carrying panniers and, in my case, more than a few excess pounds...

A kilometre from the col the rain starts in earnest and the visibility drops to less than 100 metres, so not much of a view when we reach the summit.

Matthew - Ballon d'Alsace

And, since you ask, yes James made it too.

After coffee/hot chocolate and a pastry we head down. It's cold and the road surface is wet and slippery, so we take it very gently with the brakes on most of the time.

It gets warmer and drier as we descend and we are back in pretty valleys.

But even though we've completed the biggest challenge of the day, we still have 45 miles to cycle to Basel. We find another cycle route and manage 10 miles before deciding to stop for lunch.

The cycle route continues in the afternoon, for part of the way alongside a railway line. 20 miles from the end we are forced to stop by a violent rain storm, but then we have a strong wind behind us as we zoom along beautiful back roads.

The last 10 miles into Basel are downhill, although we have a tricky time finding the hotel - a converted block of police cells which is much more luxurious than it sounds!

Here's a video of today's ride:


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