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Venice to Geneva, Day 11: Thonon Les Bains to Geneva Airport

Alpine Alps Bike Packing Cycle Touring France geneva Mountains Switzerland

With the knowledge that all the hard riding was behind us, a huge meal the night before and a celebratory beer or six, the sleep in the local Ibis was particularly comfortable. It seemed to be the comfiest bed I'd ever woken up in. Even with a late breakfast agreed it proved hard to drag myself out of bed but I eventually made it down and enjoyed a good feed with a view of the lake. All very civilised.

Ahead of us lay about 40km of lovely relaxed riding along one of the main cycle routes that surround Lake Geneva. Initially the tell-tale signs of fatigue arose when even the slightest gradient appeared and my legs started shouting at me after a few pedal strokes. Luckily for me, the gentle slopes always ended after a few hundred metres and (so far as I knew) none of us were racing today. We had loads of time to make our flight so once warmed up we could spin along the lake enjoying the views and mostly traffic free riding. A very pleasant change to the last 10 days of self-imposed brutality. 

Nearing Geneva the group splintered and 3 or 4 of us disappeared up the road. Quite happy to go slowly and enjoy the views, myself and others let them go and gently rolled into town. As we regrouped a beaming Justin informed everyone that the ride was “Venice to Geneva” and he had just taken the Geneva Town Sign sprint. Therefore he was “the” winner of the whole week. I’m sure there’s some sort of trophy in the post, although possibly not the shape he might be expecting.

After a group photo in front of the famous ‘Jet d'Eau’ fountain we skirted round the lakeside for more photos and then lunch. While riding to the airport we happened across the United Nations building which had a fountain park we could ride through for a refreshing soak. Heaven.

The “Broken Chair” sculpture is also here which is in honour of civilians affected by conflict. 

We’d found out a few days previously that Geneva Airport sells reasonably priced bike boxes directly to passengers. This saved us a huge amount of hassle going around bike shops and sorting out taxis etc. If you’re planning a bike packing trip and need disposable boxes for the return journey, it’s worth checking with the airport itself in the first instance.

We all packed our bikes away and got changed for the flight home. All except Tim who, thanks to what some might call a rash decision to ditch all his clothes 2 days ago, had to negotiate security, passport control, duty free, the pub, boarding, the flight itself, and Heathrow passport control in nothing but his lycra and cycling socks.


I was in stitches every time he came into sight but the best moment was hearing the air stewardesses talking about him as we boarded. They mused that perhaps he had “one of those bikes where the shoes are attached and you just ride up to the airport, put your bike on the plane and walk on in your socks?” The final comment as I walked out of earshot was a perfectly delivered “How strange…..”.


Because everyone loves a good statistic – here are a few to summarise our 1400km alpine adventure…


Combined distance ridden
9800km (London to Tokyo as the crow flies!)
Major climbs completed
Elevation total 24,900m
Cafe Stops 32
Bonks 6 (plus one a day for Billy)
Binned pairs of flip flops 2
Punctures 5 (4 of which were Luke!!)
Swear words directed at team-mates sitting 20 yards off the front in a headwind  126
Accidents ZERO - With a total of 168 alpine descents this might be the best stat of the tour.


And finally…….tempers lost: Zero!  

Although the heat and exhaustion might have pushed each of us close a couple of times, a sense of humour and perspective was retained throughout. I’ve long thought that these things are the secret to a happy life and this week was yet more proof. Thanks guys!


- Phil



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