Stage 11:  Besancon to Oyannax – 187.5km

We had an hour and a half’s drive to the start of the stage today so plenty of time for Alistair to practice driving on the right before he got launched as official back-up.  He’s threatening to start his own blog – the view of events from the van – which should be very entertaining, (if full of expletives…).  Watch this space.

 We had a good day on the bikes –  weather warm and sunny and the route went through glorious scenery.  Think we’re in the Jura region, with spectacular limestone outcrops and river gorges.  The route was flat to start, and with a tailwind – a good way to ease our bodies back into the saddle after our day off. 

You see thousands of campervans but surprisingly few people – we cycled through quiet towns and villages with just a few people sitting at cafe tables.  On the wildlife front we saw a huge stork sitting by the side of the road and at another point two snakes crossed the road just in front of us.  No idea what sort they were! 

The stage finished with a series of tough climbs, and we counted 3 extra climbs which we weren’t expecting.  Near to the end Martin rang me to say he thought he was lost as he hadn’t seen any yellow arrows for ages. I was having the exact same thought, but I told him to stay put and caught up with him a few minutes later. On mountainous stages the arrow putter-uperers seem to just put an arrow pointing up the hill and then leave you to it.  Have a horrible fear of descending down the wrong side of a mountain….. Matt and Alistair went round in circles in Oyannax, and were just wondering what to do next when they drew up at a junction at the exact same time as us. 

Today’s stage went better than I’d expected.  I might actually be acquiring my ‘mountain legs’ at last.  I find any gradient of 6.5% and above a real challenge though.  Tomorrow’s stage looks OK but I am bracing myself for Stage 13 which has the first serious mountain-top finish (at 1,730m).  The final climb (Col de Palaquit), is incredibly steep, with five of it’s 10 km at over 10%….

Ali tells me that she had problems finding the Radio Solent broadcast. It was on the Dorset version of their breakfast show, hosted by Steve Harris which I’m not sure is available on the internet – Sue and Mark found it somehow – please tell me how!

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