Today the AMA Challenge Part III is finally starting! We're leaving our hotel in Sain Paul de Vence to climb mountain pass after mountain pass. The corners and switchbacks are countless. The day is letting all tourmembers have a first glance why this tour is called the AMA Challenge Part III. Our highest mountain pass is also the international border to Italy, Col de Lombarde (7700ft or 2347m). In the end we arrive at our hotel in Beguda which is preparing fresh and local pizza specialities! What a day!
Our tourbook promised five passes today, amongst them one of the real high ones. So we started out after the briefing and pretty soon the tourguide took us on small roads climbing into almost abondend areas. Above tree line the countryside opened up and offered outstanding views. No matter which direction you looked, mountains everywhere! Marmots, bussy eating to get prepared for the next winter, ran across the road, giving whistle warnings because of the oncoming bikers. Pass number one, two and three came one after the other, but number four was the one to go for. 2744 meters above sea level, breathtaking and special, on the road France and Italy is written.
Todays adventure started with a detour to Col de Granon, which was part of last years Tour de France. After passing the beautiful Col de L'Echelle and stopping for a italian Espresso in Bardoneccia Tourguide Markus surpised us with a Picnic at the stunning mountain lake Luc du Mont Cenis. Definetly our highlight of today was riding the steep cliffs of the impressive Col de L'Iseran with an altitude of more than 9000ft!
Following the Isere Valley for a little while we turned to a small road on the other side of the valley pretty soon. Coll de Tar was the warm-up for this morning and after a coffee break in Notre-Dame-du-Pre we got another training for downhill switchbacks. Col de Madleine was the next highlight. Sitting on the deck in front of the restaurant we got offered an outstanding panorama, no matter which direction you looked. But not the passes with the big names were the highlight today, it was a relativly short section of today's ride: Lacets de Montvernier - the switchbacks of Montvernier.
After getting to the hotel for those who wanted to see the museum of knives and the lovely town of Saint-jean-de-Maurienne, four of us left for an extra loop to do Col de Ladon and Col de la Croix de Fer. Coming back with a big smile in our faces we all went to dinner in town.
Today started really well with an awesome ride over two mountain passes. The weather switched shortly after we arrived at the peak of Col de Galibier to a heavy rain. Still we were adventurous today and went up on a beatiful balcony road. We were riding through foggy and rainy narrow roads until we had a well deserved break at a nice lunch place in the middle of nowhere. Following our route, we ended up in on a blocked mointain pass. The beavy rain washed huge stones on the road! Time to turnaround and get the safe way to our next hotel in Embrun!
The weathergods were'nt on our side this morning. We delayed our start until the rain got lighter. The first road we took had a beautiful view over the valley which we were following to Mont-Dauphine. During the coffeebreak the sky cleared up and the roads started to dry. Our chance to follow Lake Lac de Serre-Poncon on the beatiful curvy road where the locals are having a blast. We also did! The ride was better than anyone could have expected this morning!
PS:It's Terri's birthday! she doesn't know, that we know!
Raining all night, still raining in teh morning! Looks like a not so good day for riding
We changed the route because of low temperatures, around freeze, and possible ice and snow in the road. so instread of that we took Col de Cayolle, only 500 metres lower than Col de la Bonette. The approach to the pass was leading through an spectacular gorge. On top a big sheep herd was blocking the road for a little while and we were watching them crossing the bridge instead of walking through the creek. Smart in that weather!
After a break in Entrevaux, including a visit of the beautiful church we continued South. Some more minor passes, permanently chanching landscape took us all the way back to where we started out at.
All in all it was not only a great day, it was a great tour with all of you guys. It was a pleasure to serve you and to travel with you like with a group of friends.