Today was a tour rest day. So there was no excuse to do anything but ride!
Today we had to climb the Col de la Madeleine again, only this time we would continue on to the back side and our hotel, which is about 5 km from the top.
We took our bags downstairs, and collected our bikes and headed out on the road along the same route we'd taken two days before. Along the way we ran into Payton and Kathy, and rode also with John for a while.
We reached the base of the climb and started our climb up the col. This time, I didn't have my big heavy pack with me. But, my back was still bothering me (as it had been for the whole trip), so climbing still wasn't easy.
We climbed the Col in two and a half hours (climbing time), with a coffee break at our little cafe 9 km from the top, where we were joined by Kathy, Payton, Karen, Stan, and John. We sat outside and enjoyed the sun, and cheered on the riders doing the climb.
We rode the last few kilometers fairly hard. I crested the top of the hill and descended most of the way to our hotel before realizing that Phil wasn't there. He had stopped at the top to look around. Once he descended, we checked into the hotel.
We had a nice lunch at the hotel's restaurant before taking our bags up to our spacious room, and getting cleaned up and changed.
We explored the little town of St. Francois-Longchamp, a ski town just below the top of the Galibier. In summer, people come here to hike and mountain bike. There were a bunch of little shops near our hotel, most of them selling sporting goods, clothing or souvenirs. There was also a self-service laundry, so the first thing we did was take our clothing there to wash.
While our duds were being cleaned, we went shopping. Phil got a backpack, which he needed to put all the stuff he'd bought. I got another pair of shorts and another pair of pants. The towns we were going to be staying in were much more casual (and chilly) than I'd anticipated, so I really didn't have warm enough or casual enough clothing with me.
We retrieved our clothing from the washers, and Jean-Luc, the owner of our hotel, kindly allowed us to use the hotel's drier to dry our stuff! The family that runs this hotel are extremely nice and very accommodating, and speak very good English as well. I would highly recommend the hotel.
I really wanted to get a shirt that said "Col de la Madeleine" on it, but unfortunately, only the shops at the top of the Col sold them. Leslie, our van driver, took us up there, which was a really nice thing because the roads were quite treacherous. We bought some souvenirs and returned back to the hotel.
We returned to the hotel and watched some tour highlights coverage, before sitting down to an incredible 5-course dinner at the hotel's restaurant. We had French-onion soup to start, followed by salmon and vegetables, and then a green salad with walnuts and apples, a cheese course, and finally, baked Alaska. Quel dommage! It took as much time to eat the dinner as it did to climb the Col de la Madeleine!
We returned to our room for our nightly chore of packing, and retired, late again. We noticed it was raining... a bad omen for tomorrow?