Now in its 3rd year, the Cheese Classic is becoming one of our, well, classics! It is something that I personally always look forward too. Cycling, cheese, red wine and the odd coffee or two. It is a great mix of relaxation and challenge.
The group of 7 were all relatively new to cycling in the Alps and the first day from just North of Geneva and then around its lake is a perfect introduction with a short climb just before our first destination – Abondance. The green meadows surrounding you are a reminder of why the cheese tastes so good from the Alps – well fed cows. Our regular, Mark, quickly fell into his usual habit of moaning up every climb to get to the top and say, ‘let’s do it again!’ It was great to have him back.
For a larger guy, Tim holds his own in the Alps and I could quickly see a little bit of competition arising between him and Nathan on the winding roads up to the first proper col of the trip on the second day, the Col du Corbier – just outside of Morzine. The café at the top is unusual to say the least, with the owner’s accounts and whole life spread out on the tables inside – seemed a lot for someone who just sells coffee!
We set of for the Colombiere, not before stopping for lunch in Talloires – a very nice spot to set up by the river there, it was warm so people were using the fresh water to cool down. Matt, who had bought his first pair of bib shorts from us, could not stop banging on about them! He certainly now looked the part (not sure it was hygienic to wear them for all four days though).
The Colombiere is always a bit of a challenge, it’s the last 3 km where you can tantalizingly see the finish line which make it tough. It is psychological and all made it up in good spirits, it’s one of our local climbs and we love the cakes that they sell up there.
Down to Saint Jean de Sixt, our home and the home of Reblochon Cheese. We had organized a meal in one of the local cheese farms. Very hearty and it re-energised the group. The melted Reblochon to pour over the charcuterie and potatoes was a firm favourite.
The final mountains day followed with two climbs, the Aravis and Saisiesgot us to Beaufort. The option of extending the route to take you up to the Cormet de Roseland is highly recommended if you still have the legs and half the group did this. Nathan and Tim went a little further and looped back over the Col du Pre and back to Beaufort via Areches. This is a new addition that I would do again.
Back in Beaufort the weather began to turn and it was clouding over. The final route back to the stunning Lake Annecy was a walk in the park and pretty uneventful. Well that is if you forget the fact that Andrew, always the eccentric, decided to make use of the diving board half away around the lake and jump in, fully clothed in his cycling gear. The water warm, but he soon chilled down on the lake side route back to Annecy. Where then, the rest of the group went for a dip. A fantastic way to finish a fabulous trip.