Friday, June 20, 2014

Day 13 - Bescancon to Pontarlier - 70km

Day 13, and quite a change in terrain. We left the flat farmlands behind and we head for the alps, with our intitation in the Jura.

We had a rather lazy start again, waking after 7am and kitting up rolling down to the main square in town, being a larger city we experienced the French style of fast food, quite hilarious really.

Fast food French style

On our way out of town we stocked up on supplies for the day to get us through to Pontarlier. The route out of town wasn't too difficult to navigate and we just skipped a few steep stair climbs by sticking to the road. We had walked up out of town to the citadel last night which was right up on the hill overlooking the city, which was quite a strenuous walk, this morning we had to cycle up the hill that overlooked the citadel!

Cycling out along the river we soon turned up the road, a 3.6k climb to start the day straight up. The views on the way up were stunning looking back down over the citadel and the city.

Cycling out of Bescancon along the river, citadel in the distance
Start of the climb
At the first lookout
Back of the citadel
Still time for a photo, but where's Rishi?
Final few ramps
Finally at the top, citadel way in the distance on the left
Single track descent

Descending down for a short while on the road, we had already only covered less than 10k in our first hour, with the navigation out of the city plus the steep climb was expected, but we can usually make up some time on the longer flat sections, but today was to be anything but flat. Mst of today we wouldnt be following the minor roads that we usually follow, instead we were bisecting across diagonally on forrest trails and forresty roads, We then turned off onto the gravel descent which wasn't too bad expect for a hairy section very steep and loose.

The the climbing started again, a mixture between dense forrest trails to start and then rocky forresty fire roads. This continued most of the day, we would ride 5 or 6k through offroad to arrive on Tarmac through a village for 500m then back to the offroad, mostly climbing with short sharp descents.

Most of the climbs for the day looked like this
Finally some smooth respite
Plenty of these little markers today letting us know we were on the right track
Through the forrest
Still gotta descend and climb the hill in the distance plus some more
More smooth stuff, much easier to take photos here!

Quite a few times we passed through farms, litterally past their front door. In these situations dogs are always a concern, our worst nightmare arrived as first we came across a sign stating dog on the loose I French, then as we navigated some electric fences a chorus of dogs started their best vicious barking, less the 2m from where we stood, but they all appeared on chains, until a giant white wolf hound looking dog runs out from the shed barking like mad as well, off any lead. Luckily it stopped just on the edge of the pavement literally 2m from us as we continued to ride up the hill.

The offroad climbs continued with quite a bit of navigation issues, generally on the roads I just followed the gps and a bit of instinct, but on hilly offroad trails you don't want to miss a turn off, and sometimes you have turn offs every 100m

Finally we arrived into the outskirts of Pontarlier with a nice 4k run into town on the bitumen.

View from our hotel for the night, not bad!

A tough day in the end, only 1500vm of climbing but most of it short, steep and offroad. 6 and half hours out on the bike, with around 5:15hr riding time, that's only about 13kph moving speed!

Tomorrow we will cross the Swiss border, meaning we have successfully cycled across France!

Another big day tomorrow as we cycle into Laussane, we will most likely be able balance out a bit more tarmac to get there with enough time to see some of the city.


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