September 29, 2011 GMT
Pushing West into France

I've been slack of late. Relying on scenery to carry the interest in my blogs. Sorry about this for those who find the commentary of interest. I have revealed very little of myself for some time time now.

But the roads and scenery have been great - I'm sure you will agree.

No need to complicate things. Let the scenery speak for itself. In my humble opinion this is more interesting than my stream of conscience otherwise known as the ramblings of a madman.

I missed a blog yesterday. The first time in over 60 days that I stayed at a hotel with no internet access. Most unusual. But it probably didn't matter.

I arrived way late. Even though I was enjoying the roads this was not the reason. I simply could not find a hotel to stay in. But I was perhaps a little fussy.

I ended up doing over 380 miles (almost 620km) through the French alps and many of the high profile ski towns of eastern France eg Chamonix . But I am carrying no paper maps of France - just relying on the GPS.

And this is where the GPS falls down - much to my dismay. No big picture overview.

I had stopped around 5pm in Guillestre but didn't like the hotel on offer so I decided to carry on to the next town - not knowing how far away this was or if any accommodation was available.

Now this is a very popular part of France - in winter that is. In late September, out of the summer high season, they are like ghost towns, and hardly any of the hotels are open.

Eventually I hade it over one of the highest mountains in the French Alps while it was still light.

There are two times of the day when the light is just right. Early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

When I made it to the top of Col de la Bonette (approx 2,800m) the sun was setting and the light perfect. I got some good photos.

It was still light when I got down to the first town the other side, but no hotel rooms were available. Well there was one. But the toilet was shared and outside the room. There was a shower in the room though. Strange this - I gave it a miss.

It can't be far to the next town. I'm on the Route des Grande Alps.

But it was. I'm glad I stopped for a pizza at the last hotel that told me they were full.

As I set out again, reliant completely on the GPS, it was properly dark. Isola was just up the road. They would have somewhere for me to stay. But they didn't.

So I pressed on through St Saveur Sur Tinee (no hotels open this I could find), now up a tight mountain pass.

Now I like a challenge. Both for myself and the Family Truckster. But this was one challenge I could have done without.

These mountain passes are tough enough during the day. But after more than 10 hours on the road and in the dark - I probably chose the wrong time to take on this challenge.

I went over Col de la Couillole (1,678m) at around 9pm, the darkness hiding the spectacular scenery that would have been on offer during daylight. Needless to say there were no other bikers, or many cars even for that matter, enroute at that hour testing their skills.

At 2130m I arrived at Beuil. A hotel room was available at the first place I stopped. They could have charged me anything. I was absolutely exhausted.

The later it got the more challenging it was to find a hotel. I was so grateful to find a room. I simply did not care less there was no internet.

More details and photos of the passes coming.

Posted by Brett from Oz at September 29, 2011 08:22 PM GMT

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