There’s nothing like successive days of mountain passes to test your fitness. We thought we were in pretty good shape after so many months of cycling around Europe and Morocco but today our thighs were throbbing as we headed out on the road towards the Col du Lautaret, our second-to-last major pass before we cross into Italy. The climbs from the previous two days had taken their toll. We’d hoped to make the journey across the top at a height of 2058m in one day but our muscles got the better of us. Obviously we aren’t yet Tour de France material! As racing cyclists dashed by on their ultralight bikes we decided we’d had enough and found a field to call home for the night instead. It was a good decision in terms of the weather because the rain started falling not long after we put the tent up and the thunder and lightening wasn’t far behind. The remaining switchbacks to the peak wouldn’t have been much fun! We’ll start fresh again tomorrow. Although it was a challenging day physically, the scenery continued to amaze us. Every time we turned our heads we saw a new waterfall tumbling down from the mountains above and all the pastures are in bloom here. Some of the most beautiful sights were as we left the village of Le Rivier, where we spent the night with our new friends Cécile and Arnaud. They welcomed us very warmly into their home – a house which they are restoring after doing their own trip around the world by bicycle. Well, we had a lot in common to talk about and stayed up late, feasting on raclette and listening to their stories about travelling through Turkey, the Middle East, Asia and South America. It was particularly nice to hear their positive report about cycling through Syria and Jordan, two of the countries we hope to explore this winter. We have had a hard time researching the area and they reassured us that we would enjoy that part of the world and have plenty to explore. Thanks again to both of you for such a wonderful visit.