The next morning, our first full day in Annecy, I bustle out of bed, determined to get to Roule Ma Poule and trade in the Clown Bike so that I can go suffering up another mountain. After all, isn’t that what being in France is all about?
Of course, when I get there, I come up against what might be termed a whole lot of indifference to me and my little problems.
Me: I’m here to get the small bike we reserved!
French Guy: Oui? But ve have no smalls.
Me: Umm, but you’re supposed to. See right there, in your little book, we reserved a small. This is not a small.
FG, with a shrug: I can do nothing about it.
Me: How about calling the other Roll My Chicken store?
FG, after a brief call in which he merrily blathers in French: They have no ze smalls either.
Me: Well, this bike is the wrong size, and not the size we ordered.
FG: I can do ze nothing about it. Call back at 5 and ve vill see if there is another. Or you can trade for one of zose bikes!
Me, with steely glare: No. That will not do. I assume this means I’ll be getting a discount.
FG: Oh, oui, a discount!
Not that I give a rat’s ass about the discount – I just want a bike I can ride – but at least it’s something. Sigh. I ride around town for the day, check back with the store at 5 – no smaller bikes, of course – then head back to the hotel, deciding that I’ll take a different route than the super-busy one that Stacey and I took the other day. I start off on a lovely cobblestone road, with cute little shops and people wandering about. Ah, France. So lovely. This road is still busy, but by now I’m getting to be a master at making my way on busy streets, charging ahead when the light turns green, dodging and weaving through crazy drivers. I get through one particularly busy intersection and think to myself, my, Stacey would be so proud of me!
Then as I’m cycling I’m thinking, where the hell is the street I’m supposed to turn on? Hmm, I didn’t recall there being an overpass on the map. And a cloverleaf. I look to the right – oops, good thing I didn’t go that way, as that’s clearly a highway in that direction. I guess I’m supposed to go straight. I set off confidently, making my way up another hill with ease.
To find myself on a highway. Oops.
Finally after much map gazing and car dodging and in general dithering around, I realize that the street that I was so proud about getting on through, traffic lights and all, was the one I should have turned on. What’s that saying about pride going before a fall, in which you get squashed like a pancake because you blundered onto a super-highway? Yeah, that one. That’s me in spades. But seriously, can't these French people even come up with visible street signs? Seriously people!
That evening as I’m sulking about the Clown Bike, Stacey comes in all chipper and sprightly talking about her latest ride, where she only got lost 3 times as she went up and down 5 or 7 mountains, I forget how many exactly.
Stacey: So you should go out with me tomorr..
Me: I’m riding up Semnoz! I’m getting up that damn mountain if it kills me!
Stacey: But there are other climbs that are much prett….
Stacey: But if we go rid…
Me: Clown Bike is so horrible that if I have to ride some distance before we get to the mountains, I’ll never get up the damn mountain itself, I’ll be in such a sad state by then. Semnoz or bust!
Me: Semnoz! Tomorrow!
Stacey continues downloading maps and routes and directions onto her Garmin and iPhone, while I plot my revenge against one more Alp. Since Ade told Stacey that he thought she’d like Semnoz (and she decided he was on drugs at the time), but didn’t say the same to me, I feel a bit….underestimated. I can climb UP those damn mountains, dammit! I can! Is it MY fault they make it so hard to get back down them?
Annecy – Day Three
So what can I say about Le Semnoz that hasn’t already been said? Perhaps something about how damn boring it is working your way to the top, since it’s all through a forest? All. Of. It. For 3 hours. The most entertaining thing I saw consisted of two men in super short-short-shorts frolicking and gamboling about through the woods, with their hiking poles helping them scamper nimbly over boulders. For a second I felt like I was on a gay porn movie set, but soon enough it was back to boring trees. And that’s saying a lot, since we all know how much I like trees and nature and all that crap.
But when you’re puttering along up a mountain that has grades of 12-14% and is unrelenting, and it’s taking you hours to get to the top, then I can tell you that you’re pretty much cursing the forest, the trees, the French, their love of hairpin curves, and anything else you can think of. I hate France! Those damn French!
I make it to the top. 15.1 miles, 4,306 ft of climbing. I now officially proclaim myself a goddess of Alpian climbing. And now I can relax and take in the other sights and sounds of France, in my, umm…….last day here? Damn, how did that happen? But I love France - we need more time here!
First things first though - I have to walk down this mountain. Of course.