Saturday, July 16, 2005

Initial Tour of the Alps Proposal
(Originally sent Oct 30th, 2004)

Ever since Lisa & I did our Tour of the Alps in 2003, I've wanted to
go back and do more riding there. Since Lisa is in school and can't do
any long tours I've determined that I'll have to do it on my single in
2005, which will open up possibilities for longer days and more
cycling. If you're interested in joining me on such a tour, read on!

The basic idea is to start around the second or third week of June
(when most of the passes open) in Google's Zurich office. I'm thinking
to spend about a week or so riding the French Alps and riding the
classic climbs of the Tour de France as well as many of the more
interesting ones that have been charted by the British OCD
(http://www.ocd.org.uk/) in their French Alps guide. While we'll visit
many classic Tour de France climbs this is NOT a "follow Le Tour"
ride. My intention is to get into the French Alps early and be out of
France by the time the Tour visits the Alps. I don't really want to
deal with the traffic and crowds.

I'd also like to revisit many of the classic Swiss passes that so
captivated me last year --- Sustens pass, Oberalp pass, Nufenen pass,
and St. Gottard pass. This will take another 5 days to a week or so.
Then with the remaining time, we may visit the Austrian Alps, which
are very pretty as well and significantly cheaper. I've found that on
a 21 day tour, if you plan about 14 days, you'll have room for
unexpected events (such as a fantastic B&B that makes you want to stay
an extra day) and weather while still having the flexibility to do
extra exploring if that moves you.

I'm expecting to ride about 60-80 miles a day. (Lisa & I managed 45
miles a day and 3800' of climbing a day on a tandem, so on a single I
expect to be able to put in another 20 miles a day and another 2000'
of climb) If you've done a century with about 6000-8000' of climb
before this should be no problem --- I'm a fairly slow rider. Costs
would be around $75 a day a person for double-occupancy, depending on
the level of accomodations you want and how much/where you eat, and
whether you take any trains. (Trains were by far the most expensive
part of our trip, so I'd really like to avoid that as much as
possible, especially in France, since French trains aren't very cycle
friendly --- and if we succeed then the costs might be reduced, but
the Euro has also gone up since our visit in 2003, so it'll probably
be a wash) There'll be no SAG support (those tours cost $200 a day
minimum), so expect to fix your own flats. Accomodations wil be found
as we go (no reservation until we hit the ground in Switzerland,
except for the first day's accomodations), so if you're the kind of
person who can't deal with adventure or uncertainty, don't even
consider coming along --- my experience in 2003 was that we always
found some place to stay, even though there were two days (both
weekend days) when we had to backtrack a bit before we found
accomodations. I know enough French and German to get rooms, etc.

If you've read this far and are still interested, e-mail me. I have
maps, extensive information from the OCD and pointers to web-sites,
and a (non-digital) slide show of our 2003 trip so you can see what
it's like. You'll have a say in where the trip goes, of course. I have
a maximum group size of 4 in mind (including myself) but won't be
disappointed if nobody else wants to come along. Plane tickets are
cheapest around December/January, so if you wait until the last minute
to buy those, you may not be able to get them or you may find them
prohibitively expensive (hence I'm planning the trip now).

Oh, if you want to read my description of our tour from 2003, the URL
is http://www.geocities.com/piawandlisa/trip2003.html)
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