The French Alps on my Bicycle

The tired legs are spinning but the bicycle wheels are barely moving.  The road ahead winds steeply up into the clouds.  As I pant for oxygen my whole body is working like a machine fighting to stay strong.

My only lung does not know what has hit it and my chest feels as if it is on the verge of exploding.  The vast views below are an easy distraction but I fight to stay focused on my goal of reaching the top. For me, cycling up mountains with elevations of 1800m is a whole new experience.  A tough experience.

The boyfriend and I are currently residing in a village in the French Alps and we are surrounded by monstrous mountains.  Mountains that sprout up like brick walls, blocking out morning sunshine and watching us from above like a child watching ants crawling about their every day activities.

Over the month these beloved mountains have become our playground.  We have got to know them well with the help of our two-wheeled friends.  The twists and turns of the mountain roads have surprised us, challenged us and provided us with scenic beauty that is unique and special to this part of the world.

This is a serene place that encompasses all the senses.  As you pedal, the rustic timber chalets are lit up with a splattering of flowers, the noisy flow of mountain waterfalls gush  torrents, the musical jingle of the bells as cows greedily munch on grass and the invigorating crisp air is a delight to breathe!

We have cycled a road that has taken us to a glorious turquoise lake where the bristles of fir trees dangle over the edge of the water like fishermen hoping for a catch.   We have cycled up the side of a mountain that overlooks the valley below and watched people run off the mountainside.  Floating like feathers they para-pont their way down to the valley below.

At the top of another mountain sits a lake glistening with an outside eatery overlooking the snowy peaks beyond.  On a clear day Mt Blanc majestically stands proud and powerful. Simply beautiful…

We have pedalled up to the heights of a tiny village famous for its goats.  These goats happily roam freely on the road, in the souvenir shops and around the cluster of restaurants.  They entertain, jostling among themselves and head butting each other.

The clashing of their horns echo as much as the dangling bells around their necks – They  like human company and seem to enjoy a good scratch and pat.

The great thing about making it to the top of the mountain is the return to the bottom… Freewheeling down a mountain on a road bike has been a new learning curve for me.  A road bike can feel more vulnerable compared to other bikes.

Any hole or bump in the road causes the bike to wobble or shake… After my first couple of nervous down hill attempts I can now say I am enjoying it.  The speed and rush of air through my hair that comes from being at one with the bicycle as the road twists and turns rushing you all the way to the bottom is exhilarating.

For each mountain that I have conquered the experience has rewarded me with a real sense of achievement.  My only lung is coping with the thin air and the steep up hill grind much better than it did at the beginning.  It is still tough going, but I am enjoying the constant challenge!

Now that Autumn has arrived we are pedalling among the vibrant yellows, oranges and reds leaves which are peeking through the many shades of green.  This whole area is  looking like a ball of fire – Our eyes are mesmerised once again!                                              ( Check out my Facebook page for more photos )

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28 Responses to The French Alps on my Bicycle

  1. Captivating writing! I’ve thought about cycling in Europe but to be honest I’m scared of how big the mountains are (we don’t have real mountains in Australia!); your photos make me want to give it a go anyway :-)

  2. The road winds steeply up into the clouds… man! you sure now how to set a riveting scene, and that spectacular first photo sure helps you do it!

    As for the cow, I can’t decide whether she’s thinking: “Only one lung?? Yer kiddin’!!” or: “Don’t call me greedy, you upstart, you!!” Maybe both… : P

    The goat village sounds very cool. Thank goodness you didn’t have a pair of horns on your bike, or you might have found yourself challenged to some serious combat… : P

    I could almost feel the wind in my hair while reading about your downhill sprints. Or maybe my hair was just standing on end at the thought of hitting potholes at high velocity! What’s the elapsed time for some of these downhills, and how long does it take you to unclench your hands from the handlebars when you finally stop??

    Great and colorful post as always, sir! : )

  3. reesephoto says:

    Great photos and accompanying commentary. One of many places I hope to visit someday.

  4. brickthomas says:

    Wow, I love your writing and blog. Well done!

  5. beingouthere says:

    Bicycling is a lesson for life. Hard uphill efforts, most of the times, reward with a soul-liberating freewheel ride!
    But I guess you are the most appropriate person to tell the rest of us about it. Congrats!

  6. Wow. Gorgeous photos.

  7. You’ve shared many excellent photos. My absolute favorite here is the last one … the water tumbling over the rocks, the hint of autumn in the trees. Just wonderful.

  8. Anita Mac says:

    Sounds delightful! Love the photos…looks like such a great spot for cycling! Love the goats – adds such character to the place!

  9. maruclavier says:

    Very, very nice a fine record of a gorgeous place…

  10. suzecycling says:

    Thanks for the story and photos and chapeau for your successful climbing! Much as I love the Pyrenees, I’m starting to imagine a trip to the Alps, so this is inspiring. I had the same thought as jcreore above, wondering just where you are, what cols you are climbing.

    • jcreore says:

      The note appears on the About section of my site. Here’s a copy: “Thanks for stopping by my blog http://lovethybike.wordpress.com/. It is always great to hear from my readers. In response to your french queries : We are staying in the village of Morzine and it can be reached by pre-arranged shuttle from Geneva airport. If you want to go exploring I suggest hiring a car or bicycle ( if you enjoy pedalling up hill ?) I hope this information helps? if you want more let me know. cheers!” Jo Ann Creore

  11. Madoqua says:

    So beautifully written and illustrated. Like the others who have commented, I too, can relate to the tired legs, and the satisfaction from having achieved those climbs! Entices me to have a go too!

  12. It sounds fantastic! I’ve hiked a lot in the French.Alps. (http://richardtulloch.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/hiking-french-alps-the-mighty-gr5/ for anyone interested) but never dared to take the bike there. The downhills scare me more than the climbs, so I admire you for getting confident enough to enjoy them. You’ve inspired me to try it – soon!

  13. tootlepedal says:

    A very nice post. Well done for scaling the mountains.

  14. jcreore says:

    This is one of your best posts. Great photos in magnificent surroundings. Please name the village! Are you staying in a hotel, hostel or apartment? Can you get there by bus or train? I have considered returning to France for an extended visit, and this village looks perfect.

  15. Wow! Lovely photos! This post is refreshing for the soul…the words and the photos!!! Thanks for sharing this.

  16. Goodness. Your photos are absolutely breathtaking!

    ~Kay

  17. I loved this! The photos are so great and your writing is really evocative. I can totally relate to the pain of hills and burning lungs – I’ve been cycling and Hiking in North Wales for a few weeks now, which has been a challenge. The only trouble is that I don’t get to enjoy freewheeling down hills much because the sheep like to run out in front of you. I’m glad I came across your site – thanks for sharing this amazing trip!

    • lovethybike says:

      Thanks Gabriel for your kind words – it sounds as if you have been busy yourself! Wales is a great place to cycle – I love the place! I hope to hear from you again soon.

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