The cherry blossom is out, a full six weeks later than normal. Not worth blowing a fanfare now but Spring is here at last.
I rode in the Ardechoise last week – a good event over three days with 500km of cycling and 9000m of climbing.
The picture below is a bit grisly but thought I’d share it as it is the strangest roadkill I have ever seen. I was driving through the Gorge de L’Arly on the way to Megève when I came across it. I didn’t even know we had beavers in France.
Pic above is from yesterday’s Criterium Dauphiné, showing the Chris Froome/Contador group about 4km out from the finish at Valmorel. This is one of the big indicators of form for the Tour and with Froome winning he looks pretty well set for the big one.
The pic below is from the go-karting circuit near Albertville where we went for Sam’s birthday party.
You might be thinking that I’m getting a bit hooked on the Petit St Bernard as I rode up there again on Sunday, this time to find that an avalanche had cut off some cars and cyclists ahead of me (see pic below).
The cyclists were able to scramble over the snow but because the pass wasn’t fully open (it’s due to open today) there was no way forward and no way back for the cars.
And not only would it have been a long wait on a Sunday for someone to come and dig them out, they would also have been fined when they were eventually rescued as cars aren’t supposed to drive up there until the pass is fully open. What a day out!
Cycled up Le Col du Petit St Bernard again yesterday to see how the land (snow) was lying. As you can see from the pics there is still an awful lot to clear in time for the 4th June opening.
It was pretty chilly on the way down freewheeling into the wind but it was at least sunny – seemingly about the only decent day we’ve had this Spring, and we’re back to grotty weather again today.
The race last weekend in Avignon wasn’t a great success. I opted for the long route which only had a small field of very fit guys and I was only able to hang on for a while before dropping off the back. I didn’t fancy pedaling the major part of the course on my own so opted to switch to the short course when the first group from that race caught me up. I obviously disqualified myself by doing that but it was a bit less miserable going that way.
We spent some time at the festival in Nimes and took the kids to the bullfight which is in the old Roman amphitheatre. The setting is amazing but the spectacle is pretty awful and the kids found the going too hard to stomach, so we didn’t hang around. We did, however, have a good discussion afterwards and they now at least have an informed opinion on it.
The last time I was in the amphitheatre was as a 21 year-old, in with the bulls and other reckless young blokes, trying to snatch the tassels they tie to the horns. I did get one but also got a prong up the rear end for my troubles.
Pic below is of a Morel mushroom that we picked last weekend. We were out for a morning walk and stumbled across a few by accident – they are really difficult to spot as they are well camouflaged, and consequently they are highly prized. We then started hunting around and collected quite a haul, probably the best we’ve had in the whole time we’ve lived here. We took them home and cooked them with pasta. Delicious.
There was a break in the recent dismal weather on Monday so we took advantage and booked an overnight stay in a hotel we know in Annecy and I got on the bike and rode the Etape route there – 135km and 3600m of climbing – Lesley joining me for the final climb.
It’s due to snow again this weekend so we’re best off out of it – going to Avignon to do a race just outside the town.
A couple of photos from last weekend’s cycling: the one above was taken on the way up to the Cormet de Roselend last weekend, but I was never getting past that avalanche. The photo below was taken only 1km past La Rosiere on the way up to Petit St Bernard – the snow should be cleared for all the passes to open on time but there is still 6m of it up at the top so there is a lot to shift!
Did my first race of the season yesterday, the Tour de Salvagny in Lyons. It was a bit fruity for a first outing at 150km with 2600m of climbing, and I’m pretty sore today.
The snow did come last weekend, all 60cm of it, so had a great day out skiing with Sam in Val d’Isère on Saturday – see pics below.
Sainte Foy lifts are now closed but Val will keep going until 5 May, and the way the snow is looking I might still be out ski touring into June. Managed to get a quick tour in yesterday with Lesley in great conditions and hardly anyone about.
I took the other picture below when I was out cycling along one of my regular routes on a little road above Moutiers this week. The volume of snow that has fallen over the winter has brought down the trees for a 1 kilometre stretch, completely blocking my path.
Sam in Val d’Isere
Chris in Val d’Isere
Cycling above Moutiers
It’s been a very eventful few weeks for Emily. Having become the U16 British Super G champion, the finals of the French championships in Les Menuires were next up, the direction of her skiing future depending on her performance there. Quite a lot of pressure, as she needed to be in the top 25 to move forward with France. We needn’t have fretted, she did brilliantly, coming 4th in the Slalom.
The amazing ski season decided to skip spring last week and go straight to summer, the high temperatures causing absolute havoc, with avalanches everywhere, even on the pistes. Guests of ours narrowly avoided getting trapped up in Val d’Isère by the avalanche that blocked the road down from there and heat-seeking equipment had to be used to make sure that no one was in the cars that got buried (all clear, thankfully).
The high temperatures have dictated getting up early to catch decent quality snow, meaning a 5am kick-off for the sons of the Chalet Merlo owners this week. We skinned over the back of Sainte Foy whilst it was just frozen enough and then back down in time for breakfast.
And tomorrow we go back to winter, with 40cm of snow forecast to fall right down to 1400m!
Emily went to Meribel last week to compete in the British championships and won the U16 Super G. She did so well, and she also came third in the combiné, which is pretty good considering she stuffed up in the slalom.
Busy this week out on sites and meeting with new clients who are staying at Chalet Merlo to tie things up on their new building project.
The weather continues to be less than fantastic but we certainly can’t complain about the snow this season.
Miserable weather down at the Landry office but snowing like crazy higher up. Should have about 20-30cm by the end of the day and the same again forecast for tomorrow.
Great to have a good dump of fresh snow for the Easter hols but, as we’ve been a bit short of sunshine lately, it would be nice to have a ray or two, particularly since I’m taking out clients for some ski touring tomorrow.