Col de la Forclaz (1,527 m), Col des Montets (1,461 m)
Last night potentially the worst mechanical of the adventure struck Phil's machine... Snapped rear gear cable. For those uneducated in the dark arts of derailleur setup, when a rear shifter cable goes, the chain is put straight into the smallest cog, which obviously, is not great if you're planning on doing 3000m of climbing that day.
Phil turned to the most generous, dexterous, mechanically minded, methodical, strongest, handsome and humble member of the group and pleaded for help. I was only too happy to oblige.
Rising early, I sorted Phil's bike. The internal cable routing proving not too horrendously difficult with my patented super secret magic trick for internal cables.
We grabbed breakfast and hit the road once more with a cool descent back down to Visp where I broke my all time speed record with 107kph!
It was a long time before we hit climbs. A hot and dusty 100k along bike paths shadowing the Rhône (and a fair bit of rough gravel sections) we arrived in Martingy at the base of the Forclaz.
Despite Billy having a bit of a shockingly tired day so far, the fog of fatigue fell from him for the Forclaz and it looked like he sprinted the whole thing to the top! Both Luke and Jos came past me after Billy early on up the climb, muttering dark things about sandbags. I managed to catch Luke back up in the last kilometre but Jos and Billy were both way ahead.
At 1527m it's not the highest, nor the steepest, but the character of the climb indicated we were nearly back in France. Not sure what exactly it is about the cols of each country, but it definitely feels like the passes subtly change their flavour with every border.
Immediately after a few kilometres of the descent from Forclaz we were in my favourite country: France! Being the better descender, Phil was up the road and I caught him up after the descent (and his advantage) ended before goading him into going up the short Col de la Montets full gas. We arrived at the summit for a beautiful view of Mont Blanc and the valley below.
Turns out where we'd planned on staying (Chamonix) was hosting a world series marathon and there were literally no rooms going anywhere in town.
A quick search on our phones and a brief phonecall got us a room at Plateau d assy. Which in theory was only 30km to add to our already impressive 160km total for the day. Turns out it also meant climbing 700m in the last 8km to get there.
Time was really getting on so we reckoned the best plan was for me to get my skates on, go ahead, and check us all in before the kitchen closed. On the way up, a car full of French lads were all shouting encouragement and holding a cold can of beer out the window as the proverbial carrot on a stick. What brought even more of a smile to my face after a couple of sips and handing it back, they did the old sticky bottle trick to give me a boost up the last test of the day.
The view, reception and food were worth every single heave on the pedals. A buffet dinner saw all of us well fed, refuelled and pretty much unable to move from the delicious spread!
After 190km in the Alps I did not have any trouble falling asleep!
Justin's Strava for the day...