The weather in Geneva at this time of year is dull, overcast, and grey. Mornings, and sometimes entire days, are dominated by the clouds which are held between the mountain ranges of the Alps on one side of the lake, and the Jura mountains on the other, and which stay overhead, creating an impenetrable blanket of grey, blocking the sun and keeping temperatures low.
It’s all too easy to wake up, see the mist outside and decide to stay in for the day, but if you are prepared to brave the initial cold and dampness, and leave Geneva and ride 20kms or so towards either Lausanne or Annecy, and climb a 1000m or so, you will potentially be rewarded with a far better day than you could possibly have imagined!
Saturday was another such day, following a week of damp and mist, and low temperatures, but the forecast where we wanted to ride showed 13 degrees, so Andy and I had agreed to meet at La Cote at 09.00 for a full days ride, revisiting the excellent route we had ridden couple of weeks earlier, and now dubbed the “Pontarlier route”.
It was only 4 degrees as I prepared to leave, moisture hanging visible in the air, leaving the roads damp and slippery. Fluro vest donned and heated seats and grips on, I arrived 10 minutes early for our meeting. Amusing myself watching a group of Loomis security guards admiring one their groups Camaro, Andy soon arrived, filled up with petrol, linked up the walkie talkies, and we were off.
Strange how you notice different things at different times, perhaps we were going more slowly because of the mist and reduced visibility, but this morning my attention was drawn to buzzards sat on motorway fence posts, a small group of donkeys atop a hillside, and a flock of seagulls (!) in a roadside field, and even more surprised to see another buzzard on an overhead gantry looking down on us as we passed below.
The temperatures kept changing as we rode in and out of the mist, 4 degrees leapt to 18 in a tunnel then back to a more modest 12, before falling again as we rode through pockets of mist. By the time we had passed Vue des Alpes, the weather had now improved and we enjoyed the warming effects of the morning sun. I had been worried that the wooded section down to Biaufond would be really slippery, but it wasn’t too bad, although the gorgeous leaves backlit by the sun we had experienced last time were not there, as many leaves had now fallen, and the place seemed a little dull now in comparison.
I waved Andy through to lead as we climbed out of Biaufond as the GT wasn’t turning as well as I wanted, and I knew the long travel suspension on his GS Adventure would soak up the poor surface on this section so much better than mine. Another buzzard, standing in a field next to the road, flew off as Andy passed by, the miles passing easily as we made our way through Maiche and onto Pont de Roide where we decided to stop for coffee. After a chat with a local about our bikes, and a coffee, jus d’orange, and a ham and cheese sandwich had been ingested, we were off again.
The next section was one where last time I had wanted to take pictures but hadn’t, so I’d prewarned Andy that I’d stop along the way, and here are some of the pictures.
Great roads from here until the river crossing at Clerval below.
Back in the lead again, after Clerval the roads change to more open and faster sweepers, and with the warmer temperatures, the GT and I are back on form again. The fast road running parallel to the river is soon dispensed with, before turning off through Ornans and Valdahon. This time however, instead of going back through Pontarlier, we decided to return home cross country via the river sources of the Loue and Lison, where the winter rains had filled the waterfall to impressive levels.
Descent to the Lison
Self and GT
As we’d taken an alternative route back we found ourselves in Salins-les-Bains, which was a bizzare co-incidence, as I’d been thinking about this particular place and road the week before, and couldn’t remember where it was or its name!
At La Cure we parted ways, Andy returning home via St Cergue, and myself via the Col de la Faucille. I had to stop to take these pictures as you arrive at the top of the Faucille, and all you can see in front of you is the peak of Mt Blanc above the clouds which completely cover the lake, so it almost looks as if it is right in front of you.
You can see in the pictures how the mist creeps in and covers the low lying towns and villages, and sure enough, as I got further down the col and closer to home, the cloud and low temperatures returned, home being bathed in a cloying damp 7 degrees, with the houses only 100m away barely visible.!
Ride total, 459kms. If we'd just looked out of the window we'd have stayed at home all day, so it was really pleasing to have escaped the dull and gloomy weather and had such a great ride.