I woke up on Saturday and couldn’t quite believe it was my last day. I’ve no idea where the past week had gone. The night before I’d done final route planning and gave my Alpinestars a good clean. The last leg into Chamonix wouldn’t be straightforward as the most direct route was for cars only. Therefore I knew that there would be a final killer hill at the end. Ah well.
Camp was packed up and I was dropped back in Bonneville to start my journey. My legs felt very heavy but 10 miles in and coasting through Cluses they’d woken up a bit. It was a glorious day, shorts and t-shirt weather. As I pushed on into Sallanches I was admiring the views with the Alps directly in front of me. I was also admiring how flat this part was. A welcome relief from the past few days. Sallanches was a good place for a quick pit stop and a dash into the supermarket for BBQ provisions for later on. That felt a bit wierd. The sun was really out now and the lack of breeze meant that things were heating up.
From Sallanches it was back to the old routine of hill climbing into Passy and on to Servoz. I was quickly above the valley floor and watching the cars on the main trunk route into Chamonix with a bit of jealousy. For me it was final climbing day and I figured that I’d done my fair share already so a couple more hills wouldn’t hurt. The road I was on was busy with cyclists, more than I’d seen on my whole trip. I had enough phone battery to use Strava today and I was keen to see what the actual climbs looked like at the end of the day. In the meantime I soaked up more Alps views and dropped back down from Servoz to cross the main “N” road into Chamonix. The night before my sister had given me directions and warned me about this final hill – Vaudagne. On my Michelin map it was a squiggly white line with lots of hairpins. I doubted if I had the legs to do it, and as I approached the bottom section I doubted it even more. By now the temperature was about 24 degrees, very little breeze. Hot. My bike was down into 2nd gear (it’s been in 2nd gear a LOT on this trip) and I got into the grind. Up, up, hairpin, up, up, hairpin and repeat, a lot.
What an absolute killer. I paused at what I thought (hoped) was half way up where there was a spring/well that I put my head under for some relief from the heat. Onwards and upwards. A jogger had already ran past me going down hill, a wiry looking guy, fit as a fiddle. Respect to this dude who had already come up and over from the other side of the hill. We gave each other the nod and I continued up up up. After what seemed like only 10 minutes, Mr Jogger overtook me going uphill! I kind of chuckled out loud as he passed me and navigated more hairpins. I had nothing left in my legs to go any faster and thought that he probably hadn’t run from Wales so he can crack on.
I made it to the top in now blistering heat and knew I’d catch Mr Jogger on the downhill. Vaudagne village was at an altitude of 1015 metres so I’d gone up pretty much the height of Snowdon.
Now I was bombing down into Les Houches and back onto familiar D roads for the final 4 miles to Chamonix. What a feeling. Top gear most of the way. Mont Blanc and the Bossons Glacier was up to my right and it seemed so surreal. A few minutes later I was rolling down the drive to my sisters house, exhausted and elated, to be met by Ellie and some of her friends. The garden was decorated with cycling related butning, the ice buckets were full of alcohol, the BBQ was on and the table filled with food.
It was time to rest, relax, reflect and celebrate what has been an absolutely epic adventure.
Sunday morning and it’s still not sunk in yet. This morning I haven’t had to pack up camp or get on my bike but I have been out to walk Dizzy and fetch Pain au Chocolate for Ellie and Amy. Today (Sunday) will be a pure day of rest, taking in the local market and enjoying the views. Apparently snow is forecast tomorrow so it’s time to make the most of the good weather and just chill ☺