The forecast for Sunday was looking cold and the proposed route North to Pontarlier has had to be abandoned due to forecasts of zero temperatures and sleet, and south is now the only option worth considering.
After studying the map in detail, the decision is made to head South to Aspres-s-Buech and then head back up via the Col de Roussset and the Gorges de la Bourne. Mark (K1300GT), Marc (K1300R) and Andy are plannimng to come, despite the low temperatures and the 08.15am meeting time necessary to allow us to get round the full days route thatís now been agreed. The Zumo says the route is 590kms and will be 7hours 4 minutes riding time. Pay attention to this forecast, Iíll come back to it later.
Iím up at 06.35am, as Andy has promised to come round at 07.30am to fit the bike to bike walkie talkie, but when I start up my mobile at 07.00am I see that heís already written an SMS having to drop out of todayís ride due to his week long cold. Damn, could have stayed in bed a bit longer! Marc is also only able to join for part of the ride as he has to be back home by midday.
Leaving in plenty of time to be at the douane for the 08.15am meeting point, Iím well dressed for the cold. Zero degrees when I got up, itís a chilly start to the day, with the forecast even down south not likely to exceed 12 degrees C. Iím at the douane early, and although we ageed where to meet itís 10 minutes before I realised that theyíre on the other side of the change office and Iím on the other, and have been waiting for me as long as Iíve been waiting for them! Marc agrees to ride with us to Chambery, although itís all motorway, and heíll divert off cross country via Chambery, Belley, and the Gorges du Cerdon.
We set off around 08.30am, a little later than planned but itís not a problem. With an empty motorway we ďmake progressĒ, and itís probably only 40 minutes or so before weíre saying goodbye to Marc and heading off again on the motorway to Grenoble, where we stopped at the services for a warming cup of hot chocolate, and for me to top up with petrol.
From Grenoble we head for the Col de Croix Haute . Stopping to take a photo of the cloud covered hills nearby.
Leaves changing colour
Iím finding great grip from the BT020ís and am able to run a good pace, and after some time we even managed to catch the two bikes that had passed us when we had stopped taking photos. The first bike loaded with panniers, perhaps a GS(?) is being ridden very quickly, but the other is a GT, and the rider doesnít fancy trying to hold us back, so soon both graciously waved us through, and off we went.
All went well until just before Aspres-s-Buech, when slowing down to enter the town, some myopic guy decided to pull out of a side road in front of me. Why do people do that? Itís not like the bike is hard to see! A GT is a large bike with a bright Xenon headlight, yet he watched me close in and then pulled out, unbelievable! I gave him the full 136db of the Stebel horn and a tapped finger to the helmet to indicate how stupid his pulling out had been!
At Aspres we started a route that I canít remember riding before, but must have ridden at least part of during the past 10 years. Heading for Die the roads are mostly open and straight but there are a couple of great sections between la Beaume and Beaurieires over the Col de Cabre, with a a really interesting rocky park which I think was at le Claps. The sun was even shining now!
At Die we turned North towards the Col de Rousset. This is an amazing stretch of road!! Great bends, easily readable, and so little traffic we straightline most of them. Iím still buzzing and having a great ride, full of confidence and revelling in the GTs performance and torque in these cooler conditions. We both stopped for the photos below which give an idea of these fantastic roads, and although the temperature was now only 0.5 degrees, we were both smiling at how much fun we were having.
We stopped soon after for food and a break, and you can see from the photos we were only just below the snow/frostline.
A big fire was burning insde the restaurant, and a cup of hot chocolate and a Tartiflette soon warmed us up, and the sun even came out when we started off again. The roads here were great, but Mark needed petrol and we had to deviate from the route to find a 24 hour petrol station that would be open on a Sunday.
Look at the weather now. Sunshine!!
Hereís Mark relieved after filling up, as there were no other petrol stations within miles and heíd been down to 30km range!
Revitalised this afternoon from his slightly slower pace this morning, heís got over his lack of comfort on the bike, and now weíre both really enjoying the ride. Weíre taking a clockwise route around the Grand and Petits Goulets to the Gorges de la Bourne, again more pretty roads, great scenery, and although the temperatures are still only around 8 degrees this is a fun ride!
We got parted for a while when roadworks in the gorges allowed Mark to get ahead whilst I got stuck behind someone who didnít allow an oncoming car and caravan room to pass. Chasing after him he took the signpost for Grenoble, but this wasnít the planned Zumo route, and despite trying to get his attention, he was off and away in front of me. Eventually catching him up, nevertheless we had a good descent into Grenoble where I ignored the Zumo and probably added another 20kms to the route, by ignoring instructions and following the motorway signs!
Highest temperature of the day was bizzarely at 16.35pm at 12.5 degrees, I got back home at 17.30pm, and guess the riding time? Remember the Zumo had calculated 7hours.04 minutes, our actual time, including diversions for petrol and deviation from the planned route was, 7hours 3 minutes, spookily accurate! This was one of the best rides this year despite the cold, and the bike worked well, except for a slight problem with the cruise control. Probably the last all dayer, but a great one nevertheless.