Friday, August 29, 2014

Day 5: Chartreuseian

I learned something yesterday. We have been admiring the beautiful green and yellow colors in this area where we now are. As the picture above shows, these colors are stunningly vivid, and though the photo was taken with a lowly iPhone, I would defy an artist to capture this scene and reproduce it on canvas.

What I learned is that these colors are chartreuse-ian, that the color "chartreuse" is named after a French liquer that was originally produced by monks at a monastery not too far from here in the Chartreuse mountain range north of Grenoble.

This map shows where we now are in relation to Grenoble and the Chartreuse Massif above that city. Yesterday - which was a rest day - we rode down the valley, through the Gorge de la Bourne to Villard-de-Lans, then up to Autrans and back, stopping for coffee in Autrans and lunch in Villard-de-Lans.

Gorge de la Bourne

Gorge de la Bourne

Stopping for coffee in Autrans

By the time we reached Autrans, Mark was experiencing problems getting his cleat disengaged from his pedal on the right side, to the point where he found it almost impossible to do so. He went inside a small supermarket on the village square to look for some lubricant (unsuccessfully), and went I went in to look for him, I discovered that they had small bottles of Blue Sapphire gin - something that is not always found in rural areas. Since we had our small, lightweight backpack with us, we seized the opportunity, purchasing a bottle and surreptitiously carried it all the way back to our hotel. If you look carefully at the pack on Mark's back in the picture below, you can make out the outline of the bottle on the left side. 

This incident reminded me of the time two years ago that we were on our cycling tour in Corsica. We had ridden into a small town on a Sunday afternoon, looking for a place to eat before we headed to our hotel. We luckily found a place and, after the meal, asked the owner if there was someplace we could buy a bottle of gin, since we were out. He replied that all the stores were closed, but he would be willing to sell us a bottle (even though, he pointed out, he wasn't supposed to). We bought a bottle of Gordons, but then we had to figure out a way to carry it while on our bikes back to the hotel. Mark improvised, tucking it into the front of his bibs:

To finish Mark's pedal story, he found a sport shop where a guy simply sprayed some lubricant on the pedal and in his cleat. Problem solved. 

From Autrans, we headed down to Villard-en-Lans, where the following scene greeted our eyes. Again, the chartreuseian landscape. 

Mark telling the story at lunch of a parrot he once had who would sip his gin and tonics, getting so tipsy on occasion that he couldn't make it back to his perch.

Mark and Dan heading back up to our hotel.

Rencurel, the hamlet where our hotel is located

Le Marronnier, our hotel, which is owned by a middle-aged couple. The husband used to be a nuclear physicist until he got burned out and decided to buy the inn.

This morning, we will cycle through the Vercors, then down to the Rhone River valley near Valence. The following day we will enter Provence!

Stats: 34 miles, 2600 feet.

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