“The ride started at the Eiffel Tower where shortly after the photographs we set off only to find within a few miles dark skies had developed into overhead thunder and lighting. The roads flooded quite quickly and the early stages of the ride were wet and cold.
We headed out into the countryside and were then met with better weather. The roads were good quality but unexpectedly the first day involved over 4000ft of climbing. Although we then had a couple of slightly easier days, the heat of over 100 degrees was exhausting and we were grateful to hit the Diet Coke at the end of the day. We even had the luxury of a swimming pool which, although unheated, was a pleasant way to lower our body temperature.
The final day (day 4) of the first leg to Geneva started with a 3 mile hill that varied between 11, 12 and 13% so it was a tough start. Many more long climbs later we came to a 7 mile hill which seemed to go on and on to reach the Jura Mountains plateau. Lunch was waiting after which we then did our final ascent and descent over the Col de Faucille. However having been held at the top of the Col for others to arrive we then left and headed towards Geneva. Again we were met with an horrendous storm which in addition to heavy rain, thunder, lightning and heavy winds, we were bombarded with hailstones the size of gold balls!!!
All plans for a glorious finish at the Lake were abandoned as we fought through deep flooding, grid locked traffic, fallen trees, branches and blocked roads to the hotel. We finally arrived and welcomed the very warm shower and later celebrated our success of climbing 6800ft that day and around 18,000 ft over the 4 days.
The second leg took us into the Alps. We left Geneva and thought we had a relatively easy day. However after an initial going off track we climbed up part of the Tour de Saleve (a Red rated cycle ride) and then descended to Annecy. We then ascended the Col de Leschoux for lunch. The hills this day kept on rising and the heat was energy sapping but we arrived at a lovely little hotel in Allevard having climbed over 6000ft – so much for an easy day.
Day 2 of this leg again led us over several Cols and roads that were steeper and longer than the Cols to arrive in Corps – a beautiful small town where we managed to sit and relax a while before dinner to celebrate another strenuous day. Day 3 was easier we felt but was still 5500 ft of climbing over more Cols – maybe we were getting used to it. The final day started with some long and steep hills and Cols via Castellane but after lunch we started descending – initially via rolling roads but eventually down some serious descents with amazing scenery and on into Nice.
It was a great challenge and when the going got tough we thought about the reason we were doing this – to help research into cancer.
We would recommend this trip to anyone. London to Paris is good but Paris to Geneva is better. Geneva to Nice however is better again – the terrain just gets tougher.
So having thought 2 years ago we could never cycle over a Col and having set this as a target we have now lost count of how many we have done.
We are still not expert cyclists and we certainly cannot ride up or down the Mountains at the same speed as the seasoned cyclists but as relative novices we felt we demonstrated that it is never too late to take on such a challenge and hope to take on more.”