Tuesday 2nd & Wednesday 3rd March 2010
Malbuisson, France - Col de la Givrine - Geneva, Switzerland
Woke up before the alarm. I guess my body is adjusting. Cereal and coffee for breakfast. Faffed a lot for some reason - no real target for the day (still 1 night before Geneva) and it was rainy and grey. Changed route plans and headed back east to Vallorbes where I sat in the sun a while and enjoyed not pushing on. Entered Switzerland and made for Lac and Vallee de Joux which after some hills was lovely - houses with a lake to the front and ski lift to the back! Sun was in and out but generally pretty nice. Sat in the village for a while eating lunch by a stream, quite hot in my black jacket and wooly hat. Les Rousses back in France was my target and I had thoughts of a long lie-in and short day into Geneva, however as well as being a stop on the Tour de France this year it turned out to be a pretty big ski resort, and apparently it's the holidays here so everywhere was complet! That was that - bought some supplies (gnocchi) and headed out of town in the snow - stopped at an Auberge Jeunesse 1.7km down a hill in the wrong direction - €38!!! No way, wild camping it is. Pulled into a small side road not far away and pushed the bike along a cross country ski track, finding a decent spot underneath some wood machinery. The snow was thigh deep so I stamped it all down to make space for the tent - set it up with water poured on pegs (to freeze them in) and guy ropes to trees, it was perfect! Gear in the vestibule, sleeping mat and bag laid out, cooked dinner (v. tasty gnocchi, chorizo (from Toul) and Passendale cheese (from Belgium)). Ate biscuits, wrote, text and got to sleep early. I woke a couple of times (about 03:30 and 06:30) but was toasty warm the whole night. Heard skiers and a piste-basher but no bother.
Got up at about 8am to start packing up - tent was down by 08:45 and I was up the road by 9 - v.chilly, 6 layers needed. Turned out I'd camped about 100m from the top of the Col de la Givrine at 1232 metres! I thought I had the Cote de Nyon to climb but on passing through St. Cergue and buying a pain au choc (CH francks, oops!) and putting on more layers I realised I was at the top and it was all down hill - confirmed when I rounded a corner to see the snowy peaks rising above the clouds, and on closer inspection Lake Geneva below! A perfect breakfast spot - orange juice, coffee, baguette, butter, jam, honey. Perfect? I'm not sure, but pretty damn nice!
The descent off the actual mountain was about 5 miles, my first real proper mountain descent, but it was just so cold! I was shivering pretty violently by half way but enjoying it. It was another few miles of downhill to the lake shore and then a nice cycle lane along the main road that skirts the water. I'd pictured this to be pretty beautiful but with the big houses shut away to the left and various houses/flats/garages on the right there wasn't much to see apart from the odd glimpse of the lake and some boats. I still had a good few hours to spare so rode very leisurely into Geneva, stopping to eat and take out some Swiss Francks. Found it pretty tricky to get around the city but found the fountain and had lunch - Reblonchon and sausage baguette. Had a few people stop to chat, then the rain started. I set off for Leandra's with plenty of time to spare as I had no map or directions, just a rough location in my head from a memory of a Google Map. As it turned out I'd passed by within 50m but missed the road name - Mum helped me out from home with the help of Google Maps!
I was welcomed by Leandra, her boyfriend Andrin and best friend Laura - they helped me with my bags and I settled into Leandra's bedroom - she'd given it up for me : D I checked in online for the first time since Luxembourg, showered and had a lovely pasta dinner. Leandra and Laura both went out for sports/dancing so I caught up on emails, and then we played Uno and ate cereal 'till late. Great to be here.
An excerpt from my hand scrawled day-to-day diary.