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Here is Briançon! A fairly large town in the French Alps, one that Grace was already familiar with and wanted to show David around, ie/ go for a coffee in the old town. Not the easiest thing to do with two heavy bikes and two heavy hangovers. The old town is at the top of a hill in Briançon. One might think that after crossing two massive passes, a piddly little hill wouldn’t phase us, well, think again. The piddly little hill was paved with cobblestones and was steeper than the steepest sections we’d recently done. So we ended up walking.

We sat in a coffee shop, feeling sorry for ourselves. To add to our misery the coffee wasn’t a patch on the Italian coffee we had gotten used to over the previous six weeks. A warmshowers host awaited us another 30km on, halfway up our third and final Alps pass, so the lure of a warm shower finally dragged us out of Briançon and up the valley towards Grenoble.

By the time we arrived it was very cold, so we thawed ourselves out in front of an open fire, in a beautifully restored old French farmhouse. We joined the family for an amazing feast, and shared tales of riding across the Alps and around Italy, which the family were about to embark upon themselves.

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After a super rest, though we could have happily stayed weeks in this house, team Road to Road set off for their final big challenge of the ride. Another 20km of climbing, and then 80km down towards Grenoble.

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The mixture of climbing large mountains in the sun and the freezing cold ambient temperature meant that we invented some new styles of fashion, as displayed below. Unfortunately if we stopped for more than about 1 minute we’d have to throw all our clothes on again.

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We didn’t linger long at the top (just long enough to show off our clothing styles to a few passing motorists), and soon begun our journey down. We thought this would be great, 80km of downhill. The second biggest stretch of downhill for the trip, the largest being back in China when we descended the Tian Shan ranges.

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Unfortunately it was bloody cold, and when you ride down hill it’s very hard to stay warm. We didn’t stop to take too many photographs.

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When we got about 30km from the city of Grenoble, it started to flatten out and then a strong headwind came along and took what little gradient there was away from us. We had to work hard for our final push into town.

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It was worth it, Grace’s friend Dan made us delicious tartiflette. Yum!

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