Day 30: Prelude to The Giant - Heidi Ho - CycleBlaze

July 10, 2012

Day 30: Prelude to The Giant

If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times. It's funny how things work out...

I like trains. But I don't necessarily like riding trains in Europe, alone, with a loaded touring bike. The stations, language (so announcements) and procedures are (in some cases) unfamiliar. Now and then the cars are hard to get on and off of with a bike. I don't like leaving my bike to go to the toilet in a crowded station, so, unless I'm desperate, I only "go" on the train, between stops.

And then there are the stairs. Newer stations have elevators (lifts) to get up and down from platform to platform. But older, and smaller, stations only have stairs. Which means taking all the crap off my bike and shlepping it down and up in stages. Which, though cumbersome, works fine if no one is around, but in a busy station it means leaving SOMEthing unattended, if even for a few moments. So today, while I rode to the train station in Lausanne, on my way to Orange, in France, and to Mont Ventoux, I hoped for a stress free trip.

I spent the night in Lausanne, at the same campground that Leo, Steph and I stayed in, what seems like a year ago. It was as good a place as any to overnight before the next leg of the trip south. And I lucked out because the woman at the campground, a German who spoke more languages than I could count, let me use one of the office computer monitors to plug in my laptop so I could load French Maps on my Garmin. It was a huge favor and I appreciate it!

Anyway, were was I? Oh yes, trains...

I got on the train in Lausanne, sat down and, a bit stressed about the train transfer in Geneva, asked the woman next to me for advice.

"Oh, you're going through Lyon," she said. "I'm on the same train. I will show you the correct platform.".

Which was trickier than it sounds. In Geneva, the platforms for the France bound trains are in a different area of the station. Phew! One stress relieved. And when we got to the correct platform, after passing through customs (that was unattended by any agent) I found myself with two other touring cyclists.

Otto and Zoe were on their way to Avignon to ride west through southern France. Zoe, at age 13, was already a veteran of multiple tours, but this would be her longest. Otto, her dad, being Swiss, spoke excellent English. So, being touring cyclists, we instantly bonded and completed the trip together. Helping each other on and off the trains with our bikes, hanging out in the Lyon station, that was very crowded, finding the right platform... Heck, I could even use the toilet! I didn't but I COULD have. And finally, in Orange, which was the stop before theirs, helping me off the train with my bike. I went through my dwindling collection of American coins and came up with a full set for Zoe, explaining what each one was worth. She was thrilled. All in all it was an enjoyable and relaxing train ride. So, it's funny how things work out.

The pile of bikes in the train from Lyon to Orange in France
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Orange, France, felt immediately different. Very hot, and dry. It was like the weather at home in California, actually. I liked it, though it would take some getting used to, after being in cooler Switzerland.

From there I rode to Viole, not too far from Orange but about 30 km from the base of the Ventoux climb. I should have gone further, but I was tired, and riding into a headwind. And did I mention it's hot!?

I don't have much time to acclimate. Tomorrow, I climb Mont Ventoux, The Giant of Provence!

The view of Mont Ventoux from my campsite...
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...and zoomed in to the highest level my camera would go. Notice the famous TV tower on top. The campground host thinks I'm crazy for wanting to climb it. Though her English wasn't that good. Maybe when she said "crazy" she really meant "awesome"?
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Today's ride: 34 km (21 miles)
Total: 2,876 km (1,786 miles)

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