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Day 15 : Grand Colombier

We woke up with a hangover. Yesterday the wine already tasted sour,  it bothered us in a different way. At the bakery in Rumilly we bought food. It was Sunday, so we bought extra bread for along the way. On the first climb I needed to go to the bathroom again, but there weren't any good places. A few corners further we found a Maria statue with some grass around it. There we could park our bikes and walk into the forest. When we were done, I told Bram, 'Hallelujah , that feels better'.


While cycling, Bram's pedal scrapped over a piece of metal, keeping his chain guard in place. We found the screws required to fix it at a construction market a few days ago. However, that didn't work because we couldn't get the screws out with only an Allen key. Then I got an idea, we could tape it. Now Bram's 3000 euro Idworx bike was also fixed with duct tape. The descent of this climb was unusual. It was very steep, so we went crazy fast within seconds. There was also much rubble on the road and many hairpin turns.

It was a warm day. Because the area was flatter, the route was more difficult to follow. In the Alps and the Pyrenees we just had to cycle from one mountain to the next, now we had to take many turns. Just before the Grand Colombier we took a wrong turn. The first part of the climb was very steep, there were many hairpin turns as well. Halfway up, we reached some flat sections alternated with very steep parts. The French there all drove their cars up like they were in a hurry. There was nothing to do on that mountain, it was just a rock in the middle of a flat landscape.

Grand Colombier

View from the Grand Colombier

While I was slowly going uphill and eating some chocolate, Bram was sick of climbing. That's why I decided to tease him with all sorts of stories. I had expected this climb to be easy, it was just a small mountain outside the Alps. It was supposedly tough though, its index is the fourth highest of the entire 100 cols tour. We got a stamp in a youth hostel a few kilometers before the summit. There we ate some ice cream and took a break. I tried to ask in French if more 100 cols cyclists had passed this week. They didn't understand. This year we hadn't seen anyone. Last year we met Mishka and his dad in the spring and Piet and May in the summer.


After three hours of climbing, we reached the top. A motorcyclist parked right in front of the sign, just as on the Galibier. The owners just came towards us when we were talking about how annoying that was. They also happened to be Dutch. They wanted to take a picture of themselves, but the motorcycle also needed to be in it. I started taking a picture of Bram, who extra loudly said, 'make sure that the motorcycle is not in it'. The people with the motor were driving a loop through the Alps.

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Bart at the col

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Bram at the col

The Grand Colombier is pretty high, so there was bound to be a long descent. One part was very steep, we both reached 70 km/h. Then it continued for a long while but less steep. Because it was Sunday, we had carried extra food, but we needed more. Bram was pretty hungry and I also a little, while it was still another 12 kilometers of climbing before we would reach the campsite. That climb wasn't super steep and would take 'only' about an hour. All villages we passed during the climb didn't have stores and Bram had his most difficult time of the trip, I was also hungry and worn out from all the days of cycling. Five kilometers before the campsite we passed a bar/restaurant that seemed open. A small old lady came out while we were discussing what to do. I asked if they were still open. Yes, they were. She asked immediately if we wanted to eat.


We walked into the bar to find that no one else was there. The lady put us at a table. She was talking a lot and I understood that the restaurant actually wasn't open but that we could get a plate with meat and bread if we wanted. We would be happy with any food by now, so I said that was fine. The lady was a perfect host. She asked where we would be sleeping. I took out the directions and pointed to the next village. She said there wasn't a campsite there. She checked with some people in her living room. They also weren't aware of a campsite. Then she said that we should camp behind the village's church. I didn't really feel like that because I thought the campsite existed, and it was only 20:30.


In the bar hung many pictures of the old lady with all the regular guests of the bar. The living room was right next to the bar. The lady had read about the 100 cols tocht on the back of my shirt. I heard her tell the people in her room that she was feeding boys that were cycling 4000 kilometers. Behind the living room was the kitchen. There I saw the lady cut meat for us. She asked if we wanted to drink something. Bram picked cola and I wanted some wine. For some reason she seemed to think it was very odd that I ordered wine. I thought I had pronounced something wrong, but I still got the wine.

The first course of our dinner was lentil soup. We hardly had eaten any warm food the entire vacation and were starving, so that tasted amazing. Bram had tears in his eyes. We got a huge pan big enough so that we could each eat two bowls. It came with grated cheese. I wasn't sure if we were supposed to put that in our soup or eat it with the bread that came with it. The lady would probably be surprised if I threw it in my soup if that wasn't how we were supposed to eat it. I still did it, and it tasted fine.

After finishing the bread and soup, she arrived with two plates with meats. They were slices of sausage and paté. Those didn't come from the supermarket but were homemade and all very tasty. We ate them together with the bread. The later it got, and the more wine I drank, the less I felt like cycling. The last course was cheese. Fortunately, I had gone to dinner in France before, so I knew we weren't supposed to eat all the cheese on the platter. Otherwise we definitely would have.


After a long time we were done eating. The lady came up to tell us again to sleep behind the church. By now, I agreed because it was completely dark. She went to get the pastor, whom we found out was sitting in the living room. After telling him we were the boys that cycled so far, she told him to bring us to the church. We didn't have to pay now, tomorrow morning breakfast would be ready, then we could pay.


The pastor brought us to a nice lawn behind the church. It was quiet there, he said, except for the church bells ringing every half an hour. We quickly put up our bivy bags because it started to rain.

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The lawn behind the church

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Our campsite

Daily distance : 116 km

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