A Day of Rest After Another Epic & Breathtaking Climb

Today I did something unusual: Nothing!

Well, not totally nothing (I wandered around town and did laundry at the laverie), but I didn’t go for a ride. My body was telling me, very clearly, that I needed a day off. And, I listened. Susan was shocked when I told her. I think jet lag and four tough days of riding, plus the assorted and minor aches and pains from my crash, have combined to expand my weariness exponentially. If I’m not mistaken, resting today was a sign of my growing maturity.

Yesterday’s climb was tough, but amazing one and it wore me out. I climbed the Semnoz mountain again, this time from the other side. This is the easier climb up the Semnoz, but the views are much, much better. This side of the mountain is the side that faces the lake and valley so, yep, you get lots of views down to the lake, valley and the mountains across the valley. Spectacular views. According to my app, it’s a 25.3-kilometer climb, with an average gradient of 4.8 percent and a max of 8 percent. The other side, the one I did a few days ago, is a 17.1 kilometer climb, with an average gradient of 7.2 percent and a max of 9 percent. So, in other words: this side is longer but less steep.

This climb is broken into two sections. The first begins in the town of Servier, by the church and the D1508, and you ride 12 kilometers to the town of Leschaux. The road goes along the ridge of the mountain with a very gradual incline. It was all 3- and 4-percent grades. That’s easy!

Chatillon is a small town, but there’s a restaurant and a pottery shop. I’m not sure if any cyclist (and there were a lot of them; I saw hundreds) has ever bought a piece of pottery in Leschaux. Maybe on the way down.

This is where the S-turns begin and the road gets steeper. But not too much steeper. A lot of 5s and 6s and a couple of 8s, near the top.

I made it to the summit, and stopped to take in the view. Here’s a video of the view…

An American couple got out of their car and the guy immediately asked me, in English, “How was the ride?” He had no way of knowing I was American. None of my clothes had American markings or words on them. And, we were in France. Where they speak French, not English. I was tempted to pretend I didn’t speak English (I know enough French to fake it), but was tired from the climb, out of breath, told him the ride was “great” and rode away.

The ride down was cold. Really cold. And, there were lots of motorcycles, always in groups of four or five or more. Hundreds of choppers. They seem much more intimidating and scary than cars when they pass you, especially around a corner. I think it’s because they’re so damn loud. A couple passed so close I could feel the heat from their exhaust pipe on my leg.

Back down the way I came back up, without stopping at the pottery shop, and back to Annecy. Another day, another col. Tomorrow I head to Cluses (by train), and may start with a climb up the Col de Pierre Carree after I check into my hotel. It’s a 20.9-kilometer ride, with an average gradient of 6.3 percent and a max of 8 percent. I’m glad I took today off.

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