Étape / Stage 9 - Champagne
Another quickie! 40 km windy ride along the touristic wine route with lots of bubbly names and views that everyone recognises. The ride ended up to Epernay and small village called Ay near it.
For the travelling Finns Ay is of course something very dear: AY is the company code for Finnair. And when the Finnair planes bank to final approach to the Helsinki Airport on the eastern side of the runways, they do it above a town called Sipoo, or Sibbo in Swedish. So, it was an honour to ride Sibbo in Ay.
Étape / Stage 10 - From Dijon to Beaune via Nuits-Saint-Georges
Next ride had even more wine as it went along one of the best wine regions in the world. Cote d’Or of Burgungy is known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
But the ride started from Dijon, known for it’s mustard, and the bike needed a new bolt. Cobble stones of Roubaix took their tax and the crank fastening screw was missing already in Champagne, making the ride interesting as the crank needed to be fastened several times. Luckily the capable crew of Valandro bike shop fixed it and charged a horrible price of five euros. Merci!
After leaving Dijon, I rode fast on the main national road to Nuits-Saint-Georges, the hub of the wine area, and then down to Beaune. From there I strolled along the wine route that followed the hill, going from village to another with names that make all wine lovers weak: Vougeot, Vosne-Romanée, Gevrey-Chambertin, Fixin, and so on. I resisted tasting but had some local fermented grape juice with my meal after arriving to a hotel around sunset.
Étape / Stage 11 - Alpe d’Huez
After a long drive to mountains, I found myself in winter wonderland in Bourg-d’Oisans just below a Tour de France classic, ski station of Alpe d’Huez. I changed the winter tires, put the heavy clothes on and started the first real climb of this Tour Hivernal.
It WAS cold, but wasn’t any more after some kilometres of peddling. I had to do twice roadside stripping before I managed to go on without excessive sweating. And it was so beautiful! The whole landscape was bathing in streaking sunshine and the temperature in sunshine was very, very nice.
Mountain riding in this kind of conditions is pure pleasure!
Étape / Stage 12 - Mont Ventoux
After a classic Tour de France mountain it was a time for another Tour classic, the Giant of Provence, Mont Ventoux.
I have been riding up to this almost two kilometres high mountain many times in summer, spring and autumn, but never in winter. Or in fact when staring the ride up, I wanted really to put the word winter in brackets, because the temperature was over 10°C – meaning that in Finnish scale it was like spring or cold summer day.
This time I knew how to dress for the winter ride up to mountains and had some warm, wind stopping clothes in backpack.
Anyway, there was a winter up in the mountain. The ski station was open and the last part of the road up to the famous observatory tower of Ventoux was closed. And it was not only impossible to ride with narrow tires, but also strictly forbidden because of the danger of avalanches.
The day was again sunny and nice, and the ride was extremely smooth and good. Up to now, Tour Hivernal has been really lucky with the weather as the only rain day was the first one in Bordeaux. And funny enough during the sunny rides in northern France the south was cold and suffered traffic chaos because of snow - snow that now when I’m here in south remains only in the mountains.