The intention was to meander across to the French Alps via Belgium, the Ardennes, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland, spend some time hurtling down alpine mountain bike routes for a few days in Les Gets and then head down to Briançon for more cycling and R&R.
We managed the first bit, including a bike pootle around Fumay in the Ardennes, a wander around the extraordinary Notre Dame Du Haut in Ronchamp and setting foot in Germany in an Aldi somewhere on the border between Trier and Metz.
After an amazing stay near the Col du Petit Saint Bernard, we cooked Rudolph’s brakes on the final descent of the day from Lac du Mont Cenis after traversing the highest road pass in the Alps at Col de L’Iseran .
Over a so-so meal in a restaurant in Susa, Italy, waiting for the brakes to cool, we decided that at the furthest-most point from our house of the trip, we probably shouldn’t attempt any more high passes. So we took the valley routes around towards Annecy, stopping off at a campsite at Saint Martin sur la Chambre where I hauled my aging legs and ancient mountain bike up Les Lacets De Montvernier (would have taken the Talbot but for the brakes…).
We then arrived at the bottom of Lake Annecy, on the basis that the drive home was largely via the flat-ish toll roads. Here we managed a couple of fantastic day rides from the camp site.
The trip was such a success that the current plan is to head back next year for a repeat but this time picking up Briançon.
Night 1. Aire Calais after night crossing via the tunnel.
Night 2. Aire Fumay in the Ardennes
Night 3. Camping Kockelsheuer, Luxembourg
Night 4. Aire at Sermamagny
Nights 5 and 6 – Camping Le Frêne, Les Gets
Night 7 – Aire at Morillon near Samoëns
Night 8 – Aire at Col du Petit Saint Bernard – French Italian border
Night 9 and 10 Camping Le Bois Joli, Saint Martin sur la Chambre.
Night 11,12,13 – Camping Le Polé, Lathuile, Annecy.
So here’s the movie.
Apart from the brake issue (they worked fine albeit with a bit less bite, so I had the fluid and rear shoes replaced once back in the UK) and a probably related failure of the near side CV boot (again), the van didn’t miss a beat. Forza!