Day 20: Grenoble to Chambery, France

A farm on N 90

Today's ride was just half a day's ride, and, although I rode 45 miles in four and a quarter hours, I'm only 35 miles from where I started. There were several problems today, starting with the fact that I mixed up my directions this morning while trying to get out of Grenoble and wasted about an hour being lost. The next problem was that, after going back to where I started - the Europole Hotel - and getting a map and directions that basically were follow the tram tracks. I followed the tram tracks rather too closely, dropped my front wheel into one of them, and crashed! No major harm done, but I did sprain my left wrist and that made riding, and shifting my front derailleur, painful. There is a little swelling, but no discoloration, so I hope my wrist will heal quickly.

After I fell, I walked my bike looking for the route and found, instead, an internet access place. This one was even more limited than the usual French internet cafe, but I was still a bit shaken from the fall, so I stayed there for about an hour catching up on email. At the next major intersection, instead of of the route I wanted, I found the route I came in on. I rode it out a ways and, with the use of a city map, figured out how to get to N 90 which was what I had been looking for all morning. The way was busy and the riding was tricky with left forks in multilane streets with heavy traffic, but I got there. It only took me three hours, one accident, and about ten miles of riding to get out of Grenoble!

N 90 leaving Grenoble

I was hurting as I rode - left wrist and left knee - and it was time for lunch, so I decided to do fast food. Yes, McD's again. I stopped at the one on N 90. It was busy, and I got in the middle of the three lines. I couldn't see my bike, so I was uncomfortable, and then an unusual, for France, thing happened: The woman at the head of the line was having some disagreement with the clerk and the guy in the next line got involved. This is usual French behavior. The woman then got very mad and started yelling at the guy. That was the first time I've witnessed uncivil behavior in a line in France. Usually everybody gets involved and thing get worked out with a maximum of civility. That often means a long wait in the lines, but folks here seem to value civility more than getting things done fast. Today behavior was so very uncivil that I left rather than waiting it out.

I looked for another place to eat on down the road, but lunch time ran out before I found one. In France you have window of about an hour to sit down at a restaurant. They start serving at 12 to 12:30 and if you try to start much after 1 PM, you will usually be turned away. The next serving, supper, starts at 7 or 8 PM. You do not find fast food places, except in the big cities.

At 1:30 I stopped under a tree in front of a beautiful old church and had bread and apples for lunch. The apples had suffered more than I had from my accident since they were on the down bike side of my messenger bag which is mounted on top of my rear panniers, they hit the cobblestone pretty hard. It wasn't great lunch, but it go me down the road to the next big town ( le Touvet?) where I got YOP, cheese, coke and bread at a LaMarche supermarket. I stood in line, with a lot of other people, for something like 15 minutes to buy that stuff, and everyone was friendly and civil despite the long lines.

When I got near Chambery, I saw the Buffalo Hotel in La Ravoire - a very inexpensive hotel at 32 E for bed and breakfast - and the Buffalo Grill - an 'American' style restaurant. Both are really quite nice, sort of a European equivalent of Motel 6, but the hotel is much cheaper . The restaurant serves its full menu from 11 AM to 10 PM, so I could get a cheap room and get some super before 7:30. I checked in, worked a little then took a nap and, at 6:30, went to supper. I had an expensive (20 E with half a bottle of wine and cafe at the end), and good, steak dinner to go with my inexpensive room. Now I hope to stay up long enough for that 12 ounce steak to digest. It was interesting that the restaurant was empty, except for me, till 7 PM, and then lots of customers showed up right at 7. The French follow their eating patterns even when the restaurant follows US style hours.

Spectacular scenery in a village not far north of Grenoble

The French Alps to the east of N 90

Big hills to the west

With lots of paragliders playing in the updrafts

Most of the ride today was getting on down the road, although with spectacular scenery off to both sides. The road, N 90, was of varying quality. It had a bike path for quite a while north of Grenoble, but it also had long sections with no shoulder and cracked old pavement. There was also the wind, although it wasn't as bad as yesterday, and my sore wrist which prevented me from changing riding position. I didn't enjoy that part of the ride. Then, about ten miles south of Chambery, there was a road marked as a bicycle route to Chambery. If I had been trying to reach Switzerland today, I wouldn't have taken it, but since I knew I would only ride to Chambery today, I took it.

The bike route went off into a section of vineyards

Using well signed, and very small, roads

There was a lake near the start with a lot of folks swimming

And a conventional bike path along the road into Chambery at the end

This is where it started through the vineyards

And this is what it looked like as it ran alongside the autoroute

That bit of riding was quite fun, and I saw lots of local cyclist using that bike route. It combined hilly little roads through vineyards with some normal country roads, a dedicated bike path paralleling the autoroute, and a bike path on the road from the autoroute to Chanbery. I left the bike route, for a smaller road though small towns, well before Chambery. I think my deviation (as they call detours here) from N-90 probably added half an hour and a bit of climbing to my ride today. This ride wasn't flat - I measured 1800 feet of climbing in 45 miles, but that is only one third on the climbing in the first 45 miles of yesterdays ride, so it felt pretty flat .
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