Some adventures are about exploring new countries. Some are about widening your horizon and finding yourself. Others are about enjoying nature or diving into unknown cultures. This bike adventure was all about physical challenges and pushing ourselves to the limit.

With approximately 32,000 meters of elevation gain in 2,400 kilometers, this monster trip from The Netherlands to the Mediterranean is by far my steepest biking adventure ever.

Together with biking buddy Maarten, I started in my hometown of Apeldoorn. The big mountain passes of the French Alps would be the main focus of this tour, following in the footsteps of the great Tour the France athletes. The extra 1,200 kilometers through The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and France to Lake Geneva in Switzerland were considered part of our preparation, in addition to the 3,800 km we had been biking around Apeldoorn during the spring season. Before we reached Switzerland, the hills of the Ardennes, Vosges, and Jura gave us a little taste of what lay ahead.

The Route des Grandes Alpes links Lake Geneva to Monaco. Cycling through Switzerland, Italy, and France, we identified ourselves with the great cyclists in the Tour the France. With one difference: we had to carry our own luggage, and camp along the way. Mightly mountains, gracious glaciers, wild rivers, and countless hairpin turns glided past as we struggled our way up the Great Saint Bernard Pass (2469m), Little Saint Bernard Pass (2188m), Col de L’Iseran (2770m), Col du Télégraphe (1566m), Col du Lautaret (2058m), Col du Galibier (2646m), l’Alp d’Huez (1790m), Col d’Izoard (2361m), Col de Vars (2108m), Col de la Bonette (2802m), Col de St. Martin (1500m), Col de Turini (1604m), and a range of other lower passes.

Bike-wise, I have never been in better shape than I was in the summer of 2007. In retrospect, we were quite crazy!



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