Week 3 – Valloire

Index for this trip HERE

We started week 3 counting bruises on Mel, but apart from the multi-colouring she was fine.  We opted for a day off biking and instead went on a good walk to one of the little mountain villages, passed a gorge and waterfall we didn’t know existed, and just enjoyed some spectacular scenery.  The next day the weather was superb so we went out for a good ride on a blue we’ve never ridden before.  Superb riding, single tracks, curved banks, until….

…Mel had a screaming fall on a tight wet downhill bit.  We think she got her position wrong and in a panic went over bars bruising herself and pulling some muscles, and she broke the front brake.  Oops.  We got down and got the bike fixed but Mel is a little sore and will need a day or two of rest.  Guess there is a reason most people doing this are half our age and have even more crash gear than us.  As well as being more competent and having bikes worth 10x more than ours.  Think we’ve been outclassed somewhat!

The following day Mel was okay to walk (with a limp) – so we just did another walk in the hills.  The Alpine views really are very pretty!  We followed another bike trial so that when we ride it we know what to expect.  Sadly, this one started with a long ascent!  The day ended drinking us dry of beer with a young English couple who actually know what they are doing! 

With the weather still a bit pants, we worked out why Mel was getting hurt, and it turns out she has never learned to fall off a bike!  Not being a bloke, all she has previously done is road riding to-from places, and never really “played” with a bike.  So she has never had any silly accidents. So we spent a damp morning teaching Mel how to fall off (not that she needed much practice at that bit), but fall off in such a way the bike doesn’t cause you damage. 

After yet more naff weather, we decided to fill up with LPG.  Only problem was the “nearby” garage was only accessible via the motorway toll (which wasn’t what the road looked like on the maps), so we went to a plan B garage and they no longer sold LPG.  Then we found the motorway LPG was only accessible one way, so had to drive way past it, get on the toll, get LPG, drive miles to the next junction only to return the start!  50 miles for a tank of LPG!  Ah well, at least we’re full and I guess the batteries benefitted from the charge.  We also managed to get out on the bikes and hit a blue run, Mels 20+ bruise count wasn’t increased and we did okay.   We settled with more beers with our new young English friends (who must hate drinking with people who could be their parents!)

Then, at last, we awoke to a superb warm sunny day with clear skies.  So we got ready and were cycling to the lift when I had to wait at a roundabout to give way to a van.  Some blind French woman then decided to reverse out of a space and hit me and drove over the bike.  Needless to say I used some strong French words, and despite the urge to put her head under the wheel and drive over her, I thought I was quite diplomatic.  I was fine (jumped clear), and the bike had a lucky escape – the wheel axle popped off the frame so the frame wasn’t damaged and amazingly the wheel wasn’t warped, and all that was needed was for the shop to fix the derailleur and adjust things back.  Very lucky – and the blind bint paid the bill.

That didn’t ruin the day – the cycling was excellent and we both did bits of runs we hadn’t done before, and we even rode the entire run that scared us senseless a week or so previous.  Not in any style, but safe and controlled.  Mel fell a couple of times but her falling training paid off as she cleared the bike both times.  And I fell off the edge of a narrow run and “vanished” with a few rolly-pollies down a very steep bank.  No bruises (or screaming!) – but overall a very good fun and testing day.  We finished off with yet more beers with our new found friends only to be scared how small a world it is.  When in France a few years previously they met a guy saying he was going to take a trip to South Africa, and bizarely we met the same guy in Morocco who had just completed the trip earlier this year.  What is even more bizarre is he only got mentioned only because there was a 4×4 motorhome nearby. 

We ended week 3 in Valloire having had an eventful but very rewarding week, loads of walking and some real improvement of our riding ability.  The weather has even taken a turn for the better which should make next week even more fun!

Click HERE to go to week 4

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