Thursday, July 7, 2005

Alps Trip Day 1 - Train to Basel and onto Annecy

I arrived at the train on time. For the first hour or so I shared the cabin with a Dutch guy, we had a time filling conversation about cycling. Later we were joined by a bubbly Swiss girl and the conversation became more fun. As night progressed the cabin filled up. I slept well enough, though I was tired early in the day, I guess this was due to it being my first day.

In Basel no time was wasted, my next train left 10 minutes after arrival. Soon we were winding our way along a narrow wooded valley under a grey sky. I hoped that the weather would improve but it didn't. 2 hours, 24 kilometres and 700 metres later it was still grey and cold. The jacket that I was wearing was not sufficiently breathable for the climb, at least during such a humid day. I was soon bathed in sweat which was soon cooling me off.

The road that I had picked from Geneva to Annecy was over the top of Mont Salève, with a summit of about 1300 metres. The road had great views down on to Lake Geneva and the city of Geneva. However there was quite a cold wind blowing from the North. It really didn't feel like summer at the top. On the way down I found myself wearing just about all my warm on-the-bike clothes. I was quite alone on road for most of time. As I was cruising down, making little sound, a couple of foxes crossed the road. I also saw hawks a plenty wheeling overhead.

Through out the day I became aware that something was wrong with the drivechain. Whenever I was on the middle chainring there was a sound as if something was rubbing against the chain. As soon as I arrived in Annecy I found a bike shop. The mechanic immediately saw that the middle chainring was worn out. On arrival at the Youth Hostel (yes, I wimped out, no camping today) however it enabled me to do a bunch of maintenance that I should have done at home.

The hostel did a reasonable dinner. I shared a table with a group of young people from what was formally the Eastern Block but this term had no meaning other than a historical one when talking to them. They were in Annecy to learn French and would later transfer to somewhere else in France for a 'stage' i.e. work experience. We spoke of the recent referendum for the European Constitution that failed to pass in France and the Netherlands.

That evening I cruised Annecy for open access points. I found one but it took some time.

Distance - 81km
Time - 4:55
Max Altitude – 1340m
Tot. Ascent – 1451m

Mont Salève – 1300m

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