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July 16 2007 – Drive to St Jean de Maurienne


Ride La Toussuire

Today was an interesting day. We shared our hotel in St Moritz with an American Tour group, so the breakfast was more American than European. We had eggs, bacon, bread, and coffee with (unlike Italy), no foam in the coffee. It was great and nice to eat some good breakfast food. We left St Moritz early with the intention of climbing the Julier Pass and then driving to St Jean de Maurienne early. We are really tired of driving around Europe at this point.  When we got to the pass, we decided it was too cold, so we just drove through instead.

The Julier Pass was all above the tree line and was very interesting.

After a long descent in the van to Tiefencastle, we headed over to the Swiss Autostrade and headed back into Italy. The Swiss highways were great, well engineered. As soon as we crossed through the border again, it got chaotic and it was obvious that we were in Italy again. Soon, we were stuck in a massive traffic jam that was on and off until we reached Milan.

After heading through Torino and towards France, things got much less crowded. When we got to the border, we stopped at a tunnel to pay our toll. Well, holy cow, what a toll it was. We paid 42.5 euros which is about $58.00 to drive though this 13 Km tunnel. I guess it saved us a boat load of driving, but what a toll.

Finally, we reached St Jean de Maurienne and checked into our hotel, the Saint George’s Hotel. Paul had stayed here a few years ago with Vigo, Max and the boys.

After checking in, we decided to get on the bike and do some riding. Paul and I decided ride to la Toussuire and Tom was going to go a bit longer and ride the Col de la Croix de Fer. La Toussuire was the finish of stage 16 from last years Tour de France. When we reached the split in the road, we saw that the Croix de Fer was closed, so we all climbed to La Toussuire. It was a pretty easy climb, not much slope, but it still tired us out with our legs dragging from those steep Italian climbs. All in al, it was nice to be in France where the climbs are a bit easier.