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Episode 058: Le Grand Tour, Part 7 – La Via Rhôna / EuroVelo 17

The Cycling Europe Podcast continues to follow Andrew Sykes as he cycles on his ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. In this episode of the podcast he sets off from the Mediterranean resort of Sète and follows the EuroVelo 17 – the Rhône Cycle Route (known as the Via Rhôna in France) – to Andermatt, high in the Swiss Alps. Over 12 days he travels more than 1,000km from sea to source exploring the places and meeting the people as he cycles. The weather doesn’t always make life easy and there will be some challenging cycling along the way. It’s an epic podcast for an epic journey along one of Europe’s most iconic rivers but will he have the energy to climb to the Furka Pass on the final day of his cycle? The music is by Rob Ainsley.

Le Grand Tour: Day 51 – Ritzingen To Andermatt Via The Furka Pass (54km)

I did it! I arrived in my spiritual cycling home, Andermatt, a little earlier this afternoon after a lengthy, strenuous, exhilarating and ultimately beautifully satisfying climb to the Furka Pass. I’m now celebrating with the best CHF5 bottle of wine that the local Coop could sell me accompanied with some good old bread and cheese. This is what cycle-camping is all about!

Le Grand Tour: Day 50 – Sierre To Ritzingen (74km)

I’m running out of energy today. Not me personally but my electrical gear. In sorting out my gear last week at the €35 campsite when the heavens opened and the tent ended up hosting the 2022 Lac Léman swimming championships at the end where my feet are currently positioned, my battery pack stopped working and I inadvertently left the two cables I need to attach my phone to the front wheel dynamo hub somewhere. Although I replaced the battery pack in Aigle, I won’t be able to replace the cables. Added to this, my WarmShowers host Jean-Daniel has some very curious Swiss sockets in his house and I wasn’t able to charge anything overnight. I have 30% of charge left on this phone and my battery pack is currently being charged in the reception. That should see me through tomorrow to Andermatt. I have made today’s video but a combination of this lack of power and the Swiss love of 3G as opposed to 4G you are going to have to wait to see it until at least Monday.

Le Grand Tour: Day 49 – Aigle To Sierre (81km)

On one level – the cycling level – it has been a pretty standard day. Dare I say boring? A flat ride, 90% off road on a good quality path beside the Rhône following the route of the EuroVelo 17 or, as it is known locally, national route 1. Sticking to just the cycling for a moment, I say ‘flat ride’… I knew I was heading uphill but couldn’t help feel that I was heading downhill. After the turn to cycle east following my brief pause in Martigny, the wind was behind me so this may have added to the sensation of cycling down a very gentle gradient but I think of more significance is the valley itself. I’ve experienced this before (although not that dubious ‘Electric Bray’ place on the west coast of Scotland where I was singularly unimpressed…) in northern Spain in 2019. There too I was cycling through a valley, knew I was cycling uphill beside a river heading in the opposite direction, but had a distinct feeling of going downhill all day. It’s the brain seeing something – the narrow valley with steep slopes on either side – and convincing the body that it is indeed what the brain sees, despite conclusive evidence to the contrary.

Le Grand Tour: Day 48 – Aigle

As I thought I would, I have spent the day in Aigle. It rained heavily overnight, continued raining this morning and this afternoon and only decided to stop at around 3pm. It remains very overcast with the clouds hanging around the mountains that surround the town on three sides and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if we are in for more rain later today. Tomorrow morning there is a chance of rain but things are looking much brighter for the afternoon and continuing into the weekend and next week. Back to you Huw…

Le Grand Tour: Day 45 – Sault-Brénaz To Seyssel (112km)

Running a bit late tonight. It was a long day of cycling (although not the longest) but thoroughly enjoyable. I hesitate before I say this (as I would need to think more carefully about all the others) but today was up there with one of the best days so far; not just on the Via Rhôna but on the entire cycle so far. Another celebration of bridges as you will discover if you choose to watch the video. I hold back on the Hans Zimmer score but today’s video merited it…