Thursday, 21 October 2010

Travel Notes - Burgundy to the Alps: A Washout!

Monday 16th August

Bourg en Bresse - Les Rippes - Certines - La Trancliere - Priay - Chateau-Gaillard - Amberieu-en-Bugey = 20 miles
Train from Amberieu-en-Bugey to Aix-les-Bains

My arrival in Bourg en Bresse initially was a celebration that I had made it after what had looked like it would be a big wet one.

The historic town centre is very picturesque and lent itself very well to being photographed. So that's what I did for the first half an hour after I arrived there.

Being under the warm sunshine among 15th century buildings in the narrow walkways was a rewarding way to end the day's bike ride.

Sadly, all this was very shortlived. Within the space of 10 minutes the sky turned black, and worst of all the sky looked even blacker in the area where I was headed!

Like a fox trying to evade the hounds, I pedalled as fast I could to try to beat the rain, but I was very quickly caught. The raindrops were heavy and beat down on me hard as I tried to find anywhere that I could shelter.

If I'd known where I was going I would have continued to the hotel, however no one around here seemed to know where the Formule 1 hotel was. After a couple of hours sheltering in a dustbin area and also a supermarket petrol station I made my way to the hotel, which, I was reliably informed was about 3 miles out of the town.

Luckily I did't have to travel far for my dinner on this rainy night - just next door actually to La Courte Paille.

Despite the weathermen's best efforts to reassure us that there would be sunshine, I was determined to keep an attitude of "I'll believe it when I see it." I was right to have followed that line, for the following day the sun stayed firmly locked up and rain was once more on the menu. Not nice.

The rain lashed down around us, and I knew that the planned itinerary of going over the cols, including Grand Colombier had to be shelved. The only problem was that by staying in the valley I would be on the main road, which was not the place to be with reduced visibility on a fast road and with lots of trucks around.

In the end, I followed a convoluted route which took me around various little hamlets - still in the valley but away from the main road. It was all a bit testing as I was following an unfamiliar route and had to check the map quite frequently, which was made all the more challenging in the pouring rain. By the time I reached Amberieu en Buguey I was quite drenched. I'd also run out of quiet valley roads so I had to either go uphill and pray to that they bike would handle the fast descents in the rain - panniers, cantilever brakes and all, or stay in the valley and pray that no one wouldn't be broadsided by a truck or other vehicle at 50miles an hour.

Strangely enough, neither option appealed to me. So after a quick drying off session in a local hypermarket I made my way to the train station and luckily found a train that was going to Aix-les-Bains.

It was great to be in the Alps, especially to be there earlier than planned. But this was not quite the entry I'd been hoping for! Once in my youth hostel I used the rainy afternoon to get my laundry done and relax at the youth hostel. By evening, the rain was drying off a little so I explored the nearby Lake and the town centre of this somewhat regal spa town. That was the most I could salvage of this day, which had effectively been a washout!
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