Tour of the Alps 2020 – Monday August 3rd

Gruben + Turtmanntal — Sierre — Alpage du Marais — Les Ziettes/Giettes — Vercorin (88.5 km, 2248hm)

Vorders Sänntum

On this day I got only 10 km longer than on the first evening due to the problematic weather. Again quite bad and cold weather this Summer apart from the hot and sunny days in the week before. Anyway, I could not stand still as I was closing in on the end and did not want to abandon certain parts of my plans, so just to take things as they come. First I went up to the end of the Turtmanntal (Vorders Sänntum) which was only 3.2 km up the valley from Gruben at 2.4% so nearly flat up there and hard to get any warm, but better than starting down the woods in the cold morning. It was only 11°C up here (below 10°C on the way down), but still it had partly dried up already from the rain in the evening and during the night.

Turtmanntal/Hungerli Unnerstafel

The highest point is actually by the last houses seen here just before the end at Hungerli Unnerstafel (1903m). The gravel road continuing up to a sea at the end looked rather bad and was not anything I wanted to try out. There is gravel only here at the widened parking (saw the work on satellite images before and thought they had paved the parking, but they do not always do so).

Turtmanntal/Hungerli Unnerstafel

It is looking fairly nice up the end of the valley, but unfortunately no views of any mountain tops on this day. I rolled down the valley and noticed I could possibly have stayed at a place up at Oberems for the night too (looked like it could maybe have been a better choice, but not sure). I actually met a cyclist (must have been a local) coming up the valley just before Oberems. Then I was soon down the valley in Turtmann. I continued to Agarn and saw a place for cleaning cars and was thinking positively and it was now all dry on the roads, so stopped to clean up my bike and have a coca-cola. Felt good (as long as the dry weather lasted).

Val d’Annivers

Made another stop in Susten to buy an expensive tube of Sensodyne tooth paste (managed to get free samples directly from them earlier on, but they stopped that and my dentist did not want to offer them, but got one worse newer variant which was now empty) and they do not sell any smaller tubes. Cost nearly three times as much as home in Sweden, but it lasted long, eh – whatever.

I got to Sierre (560m) across the Pfynwald and into the French speaking area. Time to climb again and now up the Val d’Annivers – I like this road and have climbed it before – some traffic, but not too bad on this day. A nice view back here to the short tunnel through the edge of the mountain on the way up. I stopped again in Vissoie (1205m) by the central café which is good. Unfortunately as I eventually got out again it just started to rain, but I got down to the bridge (Grand Pont) (1123m) that cross the valley and went up through Mayoux, but the rain only increased and had to stop by a restaurant in St-Jean to wait the rain out and another coffee and cake (good place, La Gougra, to stop at, if you need to). Eventually got going again when the rain seemed to have stopped. Getting compliments from an old man for my bike as I left :-).

Alpage du Marais

I went up to Grimentz (boring touristic village) and through it on the planned route while the rain kept increasing again, but I decided to just ignore it and keep pushing on. I was damned well going to reach the main destination as I had planned on this day and had to abandon going here already once before. I had detected another paved road above 2000 metres (and far above indeed). Only trouble was that there likely was a gravel stretch and not clear how long it lasted or if I could have been lucky that it has gotten paved lately. I was on my way to Alpage du Marais (2218m), which despite the height is not the highest paved destination here – the road to Glacier de Moiry (2351m) is the highest paved road up here, but have been there before. Here I just reached the very end of the road to Alpage du Marais after quite some rain. (Absolutely no mention anywhere that this road is mainly asphalted on the Internet until now.)

Alpage du Marais

I was somehow lucky as I could cycle all the way up and the gravel section (and it was only one) was not impossible in the weather – it was a little less long than I feared, more exactly: 1.26 km between the heights 1747m and 1860m, with only one big bend that was also the worst place (ca. 10% on average, but even).

Alpage du Marais

Thank god the place up here was open and it was even warm and nice inside and me being the only guest (for good reasons given the weather). They had two cute rabbits inside and you can see one under a chair in the photo here. Had a perfect little meal here and dragged out on time leaving as I wanted to get warm first and hoped the weather also could improve. Waited ca. 1h and 20mins before I left and by then I really had to leave if I wanted to go down this day. Very happy I made it up even if the views were not the best on this day.

I got down to Grimentz without any accident and was happy for that too. Then down to Mayoux (1193m) and a last climb for the day up on the road that was closed last time I went over it up via Les Ziettes/Giettes (1469m) and then down to Vercorin (1319m) were I decided I should stay as I doubted I would find another place to stay at on the way down the valley and rather stayed up at altitude. It was terribly cold and it had started to rain again, so a very cold end of the day once again. It was like 5-6°C at Alpage du Marais and on the way down and it never got above 10°C for the rest of the ride (ca. 7°C in Vercorin). Luckily I had a room in a semi-closed hotel in the centre and a pizza to eat. The place seemed shoddy, but the breakfast and lady in the morning was a bright point here (even if she was not told she had a guest and arrived late, but it was cold outside after all).