The Famous Mountain Camels of the Alps … And An Incident “Set” in Concrete

Millions of years ago, colliding tectonic plates created the Alps. A few million years ago, powerful, shifting glaciers carved out a lake and a wide, beautiful valley between Annecy and Albertville. A couple decades ago, the bike lovers of this region created a bike path connecting the two towns. Merci!

Today, I followed millions of years of geology from Annecy to Albertville and back, a 100-kilometer ride that was flat and amazingly beautiful. My ride included a rare sighting of three Alpine mountain camels! And, a face plant near Albertville that involved fresh cement. Stay tuned for details.

My ride began in Annecy, on the path along the west side of the lake. It’s amazing how many cyclists were on the path. At some points there was actual traffic congestion. And, I have to say, French cyclists never say a word when they pass pedestrians or other riders. Nothing. I’m not sure what to say, so I say “bonjour,” when I pass people walking or on bikes.

There’s not much to write other than “the path is lined with amazingly beautiful mountains,” so I’ll let my photos describe about what millions of years of geology have created.

After about 10 kilometers, there on the left, were not one, not two, but three camels, wandering around on a grassy field, between the path and some tennis courts. They seemed perfectly content to graze and didn’t pay attention to the hundreds of cyclists going by. Hardly anyone stopped to take pictures. What, are camels the norm around here?

Turns out Dino Parc Expo is in St. Jorioz and camels are part of the menagerie. I don’t think they have any actual dinos (dinosaurs) in the expo. If so, I’m sure everyone would stop any take a photo. And it would be a lot more famous.

It was all paved path until about five miles from Albertville, where there were two, maybe three miles on a quiet road. This is where I had my “incident.” There was a construction crew up ahead, and several orange cones between me and the crew and their trucks. It looked like I could go up on the sidewalk and around the crew, and so I did. And then, I noticed the construction trucks were blocking the sidewalk. I eased my way to the left, through the cones and onto the road … and realized in a millisecond, as my bike came to a cartoon-like and instant standstill, what the construction crew was doing. They were pouring a foot or so of concrete into a long, narrow (about a foot wide) slit in the road that was impossible to see. My bike came to an abrupt stop, and I landed on the road, face first. It’s amazing how many thoughts go through you mind in the time it takes for your bike to stop moving and for you land, face first on the road. “Is this trip ruined?” “How will I get back to Annecy?” “Will my Uber app work here?” “Is my nose broken? “Where are my sunglasses.” “Should I tell Susan (I did)?”

Amazingly, my rental bike was fine (other than the cement-covered front wheel) and I only suffered a few minor injuries: a little bruising and road rash on my nose, lip and chin, plus a fat lip or two. And a few scrapes on my hands. One of the guys on the construction crew saw the whole thing. You would have thought he’d laugh, but he seemed annoyed that I’d messed up their new, smooth concrete path. “Pardon moi!”

I continued on to Albertville. And then back to Annecy. I passed by the site of the “incident,” and the construction crew and cones were gone and the cement was as hard as a rock. I looked, but couldn’t find the imprint from my front wheel.

Here’s the link to my Day One and Day Two Alp stories. Stay tuned for more.

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