66km La Grave to Cesana Torinese
Two mountain peaks, two countries…. was it too much for one day? We started out fresh after a great night’s sleep; it was so peaceful camping in a field full of Alpine wildflowers and beside a rushing river. By mid-morning we’d covered 10km of switchbacks and found ourselves cruising over the Col du Lautaret at 2058m as a passing car cheered us on with several loud honks of the horn. The steady downhill run put us in the city of Briançon before long and after a little lunch we were ready for the second challenge of the day, the Col du Montgenèvre at 1875m. The climb was a challenge with the wind blowing in our faces and a bit of rain spitting down on us but the grades weren’t as steep as we’d expected and we reached the top a couple hours after we started. At the peak we found a deserted ski resort and the clouds put an end to our hopes of a nice view over the Alps. There wasn’t much incentive to stick around (aside from the free internet at the tourist bureau, which we happily took advantage of) so we put on our helmets and headed down through the fog and rain towards Italy. We had plans to continue cycling towards Pinerolo until we found a campsite, where we could take a shower and wash some clothes after a few days of wild camping. What we failed to notice was the steep climb marked on our map just after the town of Cesana Torinese. By the time we realised what we were in for we were in Cesana and far too tired to contemplate an 11km hike up to another lofty mountain peak. Our tent was wet and we were chilled through. In our minds there was only one option: find a hotel and snuggle in for the night. That’s just what we did. Everyone needs a treat sometimes!