Jerry’s Tour of the Alps 2006 – Saturday July 8th

Venasca — Saluzzo — Barge — Perosa Argentina — Colle del Sestriere — Col de Montgenevre — Oulx (164 km, 2702m, 14-42°C)

Colle del Sestriere

In the morning I decided to find out whether there might be another accessible bathroom in the hotel so I could get a warm shower and indeed there was! I got a little breakfast and set off up the nearby Colletto di Isasca (776m) – a small pass that avoided going around the ridge on the flat land and busy road. I came to Saluzzo at the other side. (I had originally planned to go another way from here, but decided to skip some less expedient pass roads and gravel roads.)

This was not my best day on my tour! It started out somewhat well though. After having cycled into Saluzzo and having bought something to eat, I was looking for a bicycle-shop, but did not find any. I went out of the city almost the same way I came in and stopped at gas station to clean my bicycle and was really lucky to find even bits of cotton to use to get it cleaned up a bit better than before. Thereafter I continued toward Barge (I made some odd detour on my way there). I found a bicycle shop here around (I think) and got help to exchange the saddlepost holder as they could not find a new bolt that fitted the Canyon special one. I guess they took a rather high price for it but I was happy as I hoped it would lessen the bad sounds from the Carbon frame. It did not help very much in that regard and I am now nearly sure most was due to the Tune rear wheel and its hub, which apparently does not operate well for more than 3 years (I may still get a new pair of Tune wheels as I like their low weight and stiffness).

Colle del Sestriere

Maybe it was in Bibiana where I stopped the next time to drink and eat something from a grocery shop. Somewhere here around I stopped shortly and while my bicycle stood still the air burst out of the front wheel and I had to replace the tube there and then continued to near Pinerolo (just after San Secondo di Pinerolo on the shortcut up to Valle del Chisone/Sestriere). Here it was time for a new flat on the rear wheel again and now I was getting very tired of all these flats! I just started to walk back on the road as I had no other tube or patch (at least the weather was good …). But thanks to a nice Italian cyclist, the first (or second) one coming my way, who stopped and asked if I needed a tube and gave me his for free, the day was saved. All these stops made this a very slowgoing day!

I took extreme care with the bloody Pedros rim tape and got on my way now even more paranoid than ever about getting a new flat and tried to be as light on the bicycle as possible. Now I only had one thing in mind and that was to stop at the next bicycle shop. I found one in Villar Perosa (I think it was) by the side of the road and bought two inner tubes and a plastic rim band (the only he had) and a new tire even if the rear tire was not totally worn out yet. I placed the plastic rim band over the pedros tape and changed the front tire to the rear wheel and put the new rather bad (old, I later realised) 20 mm Schwalbe tire on the front wheel (it is a distinctive different feel having 20 mm on the front rather than 23 mm which I had forgotten about, but it was not a problem). I got the tires inflated properly and was finally feeling fine about the bicycle again.

I just shook my shoulders regarding the impossibility of following any plans with all these problems. At Perosa Argentina it was again time for sandwich, fruits and something to drink. Then I had a pleasant ascent up to Colle del Sestriere (2035m) on a road that is never any steep. Here I finally took out my camera and had two photos on each side of the modern glass pillar fountain. The views around the top of this pass are always cluttered by buildings, but the views are otherwise not the worst possible.

Col de Montgenevre

I took the alternative road down to Cesana Torinese (1354m), which you see go off to the left at the start of the descent on the main road. This road has recently been resurfaced and improved and there was still some work on it going on. It was a much quieter alternative down, but not very interesting and there were no sun on this side this late. I had thought of exploring some gravel roads above here (Colle Bercia and a road over to Col de Montgenevre), but it was too late now.

At Cesana Torinese I climbed up to Col de Montgenevre (1850m). They have built new tunnels and the whole area was a construction site and extremely unpleasant. On top of it the weather was turning bad. I was basically going up here to collect a minor pass called simply Le Collet (1856m), which is on the small surfaced road from a parking place before the Montgenevre pass inside France. The road ends at some hotels which are just precisely inside France. (It seemed those hotels were popular, even though you probably could get much cheaper and better accomodation on the Italian side in Clavière.)

Just as I took my photo in the direction of the Montgenevre pass from Le Collet, it started to rain and I hurried back down to Cesana Torinese while heavy rain followed me down. I almost escaped it by going as fast as I could and I just continued full speed down the valley until I was out of reach of the rain and it got slightly warmer.

I decided to stop in Oulx for the night as there would be a long way down to Susa and as I had travelled down to Susa before and could not remember any good place to stay at on the way down there. I asked about a hotel, but it took me a long time before I understood where it was (just out of the village toward Susa). It was fully booked and there was no other hotel here around despite that this is a somewhat touristic place. However, the nice hotel owner was perfectly fluent in english and told me of a nearby Bed & Breakfast place and there I got good accomodation.

I had two pizzas and a very big glass of beer at a very busy pizzeria in the village.

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