My legs were sore and stiff from yesterday’s huge ride (175 very energetic kilometres!). The wind was howling, it was raining, and it was the coldest day by far in several weeks. The last thing I wanted to do was ride.
But I had promised someone I didn’t know visiting from Washington on business that I would take him on a challenging ride. Luckily for my legs, our lead choice – Col de la Colombiere was out – as it had snowed up high last night at altitudes below the summit – yes it was cold.
I picked Jeff up from his hotel and it was immediately apparent that he was a very nice guy – phew. He had missed one connecting flight from Paris, had barely slept in a day and half – and I tried to take him to a store to buy something to eat – forgetting that today was a Swiss holiday – so everything was closed. Luckily(!?) I had about 20 granola bars to give him for “lunch.” And despite all this, he was enthusiastic!
Against my better judgment I decided to climb Le Saleve (in France) – the big massif overlooking Geneva – and he was game. Starting in Geneva, I know a beautiful route along quiet, scenic roads via Presilly, through St Blaise and up to the top. I survived the two middle bits with long stretches of 11 and 12% but only just. The final few kilometres are less steep through a nice forest – and just as we reached the top I completely ran out of gas. Even on this very cloudy day, the views of Lake Annecy and the Alps on one side, and Lake Geneva and the city on the other were terrific – see photos.
As we descended, it was clear that it was stormy down below in Geneva. At Croisette, I looked Jeff directly in the eye and told him to be VERY, VERY careful for the next 4.5 kilometres – not sure he believed me. This stretch is full of very tight hairpins and averages over 12% – yikes. As usual I descended like a wimp as he went on ahead. At the bottom, it was clear he understood my warning – it is a truly amazing stretch (and a fun climb in the other direction). Luckily, the route had been dry, but now the skies opened. We raced back over into Switzerland for 15 minutes through a downpour – but survived.
“One of the best rides of my life” – Jeff said. Great and great company.
Below: Lake Annecy in background
Lake Geneva in background: