Cycling around Lac Léman
In 2011 (I think!), I was persuaded into cycling around Lac Léman/Lake Geneva. This is a 170-200km bike ride depending on what route you take. It’s a looong way.
I was pretty hesitant.
I had barely cycled at all.
In my whole life.
I was using my mum’s hybrid-type bike, had just about found a pair of cycling shorts and a helmet, and was in trainers. My longest ride had probably been about 30km. A totally nutty idea, but at the time it was a “yeaaaah why not!”
My bum was hurting just cycling down to the van in Les Gets. The outlook was bleak.
Anyway, needless to say, I didn’t make it all the way round. From Lausanne to Geneva my legs got progressively more painful and on reaching Geneva, I had tears streaming down my face. My knees were on FIRE. I rarely quit, but I was done.
So, completing the circuit was on my bucket list! Thank you to Chris and Anna for letting me join them, and for the photographs – theirs have come out far better than mine and I’ve pinched loads. So all credit to them.
Chris and Anna are an inspiration. They completed their first Ironman only a couple of weeks ago, Buzz’s Big Day Out on Saturday and just keep chipping away at those kilometers on a daily basis. Both still working, and both, by the sounds of it, only got into triathlon a few years ago. Amazing!
I wish I had more confidence and balance on a bike to actually get a snapshot of my main view yesterday, but it was of these two, working seamlessly as a team to get themselves around the lake. I was just tagging along behind!
We went in the other direction to my first attempt, so:
From Thonon to Geneva we picked up a Belgium guy, who seemed friendly enough but bugged me with his drafting and then over-taking and drafting until finally I just wanted to shout, JUST STAY PUT WILL YOU!!
The border was not very distinct, and I almost missed going through it, but we arrived in Switzerland and had a short break in Geneva. Geneva to Lausanne was a long stint, and for me probably the most challenging part of the day. Although slightly undulating, it was very different riding to what I am accustomed; no big ups and big downs, just a constant grind.
I cycled into Lausanne with pins and needles down my arms, and into my hands and a rather stiff upper body. I was hungry, too, and needed a break.
With 100km down, a grumbling stomach, at 13h, we were well and truly over half way round and took a lunch break.
In and out of the towns and cities meant having to deal with traffic lights. It was a challenge to judge the correct speed to go through green lights, or whether it was safe enough to cheekily nip through a red light. We followed cycle paths, stuck to the road, and each other, to get safely round. I’m always afraid of going too close to a cyclist in case something happens, so my drafting skills are not great! I don’t have a whole load of trust, in myself or others, on a bike! It was a good day to practise manoeuvering on a bike that so terrifies me.
Off we went towards Montreux, negotiating the side walk to get a coffee fix for Chris, and then on to the gravel paths round the end of the lake.
Unfortunately Chris got a puncture, so Anna practised her bike skills. It was the first time I’d seen a canister pump. They’re pretty nifty, if you can use them correctly…!
The road between the end of the lake and Evian is lovely and smooth, and we were able to pedal hard and fast. At Evian we negotiated more tourists to fill our bottles at the water source before the last 10km or so back to the car.
I felt pretty grimey and weary. My heart rate didn’t get too high throughout the whole day, but I was definitely aching and ready to get off the bike. We went and enjoyed the evening sunshine by the lake with a dip and an ice cream.
A really lovely day, and I’m happy I finally completed the loop and my longest bike ride to date.
Here’s what it looked like on Strava: