Sunday, July 27, 2014


On July 15th I took a side trip from Annecy to Geneva.

View Geneva in a larger map
When I planned this trip I wanted to have a few places to stay for more than just a night, in case I needed a rest. Annecy was one of those places. I thought if I didn't need a rest I might try visiting Geneva, partly because it's a major city of global importance and largely for the lark of visiting another country by bicycle. All in all, there wasn't a lot of thought invested.

I had a good breakfast in the hotel, with eggs... available. I didn't notice them until I was already done.
The Pont de la Caille, a vestigial suspension bridge.

I started riding north, in fine weather, nominally in search of a bike shop. As it turns out, the outfit from which I had rented my bike was headquartered in Annecy, so I asked for advice about getting the bike's broken rear spoke fixed. I got a polite reply, but it pointed me to a bike shop whose web site clearly said it had been closed for two months. So I was going to ride by, but didn't hold out much hope.

The most helpful bike shop, anywhere.
In the event, it was indeed closed, but it was on the way. In fact it was on the Avenue de Genève, which certainly sounded on target.

I followed the Avenue de Genève, eventually linking up with the busy and anxious D1201. I followed this for a while until I happened to ride by a bike shop that was open. I stopped, asked about the spoke. Ten minutes and 10 € later it was fixed! Finally! This was at Goodman Cycles in Allonzier-la-Caille. They were really friendly, too.

The bike felt so strong and efficient after that. I had long since resigned myself to living with that broken spoke through the rest of the trip, but it was not to be so.

The mighty Col du Mont Sion.
Call it a Category 4, on a light day?
Reaching Geneva meant crossing a small rise, in this case called the Col du Mont Sion, elevation 786 meters. It may not seem like much, but they dug a 3 km tunnel so the highway wouldn't have to cross it.

I didn't know what to expect when crossing the frontier, but I had my passport just in case. As it turns out there's an official border crossing, but it wasn't staffed. I sailed through, feeling like a spy.

From this point forward, I had no real plan. I had no idea what sights there were to see in Geneva, and no Swiss Francs. I headed vaguely toward denser urbanization, and accidentally ran across a few really interesting sights.

The University of Geneva
The Grand Théâtre de Genève
I must admit that I expected a heightened level of conformity with cycling laws in Geneva. Is that unfair? It was certainly incorrect. Cycling through town was much like New York would be, if cycling were regularized -- opportunistic, casual, efficient.

The Rhone escaping Lake Geneva. If I jumped in I would
end up at my hotel in Lyon.
As you might expect, Geneva is something of a maze of one-way roads. Occasionally I would decide I needed to get somewhere, only to find that essentially all roads were one way, the wrong way. It gets a little frustrating.

The Cathedral of Saint Pierre, after heavy processing.
Although it was around lunchtime, I didn't quite find a place to eat that met my narrow needs -- suitable for a sweaty cyclist, in sight of the bike, and not a lousy tourist food stand. I decided that my exploration was good enough, and started back.

At L'Etape, wine from Mont Ventoux!
I didn't really want to take the same route back, partly for variety and partly because D1201 had been loud and busy. Ultimately I largely followed the same route, but took side streets wherever feasible.

On the way back I saw signs for the Col du Grand Colombier. And having looked that up, the confusingly similarly named Col de la Colombière, more frequently a part of the Tour de France, is also nearby. Maybe I missed a bet; it would have been interesting to work one of those into the schedule. I suppose they can wait for next time.

Back in by-now familiar Annecy, I had dinner at L'Etape. A salad with filo dough wrapped cheese, a surprise fish (good, but it wouldn't hurt to read the menu more closely) with risotto and sweet potatoes, and another crème brûlée. And a bottle of wine from Mont Ventoux!

Elevation profile
While the profile looks dramatic, this was an easy day. A little over 55 miles, with 2800 feet of climbing. The most difficult kilometer only averaged 5.4%. And my bike was fixed!

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