It was good to finally get riding. Any apprehension just seemed to disappear as soon as you started turning the pedals. We caught our one and only lift out of Les Houches up to the Bellevue and from there we rode an easy descent to Les Contamines Montjoie. Then from there to Notre Dame de la Gorge which is at 1210m and the start of an epic climb. The first of many I might add.... The refuge du Col Croix de Bonhomme sits at 2479m and this would be our bed for the night. So, just a 1269m biker hike between us and dinner.
The first half of the climb we managed to ride most of, but it eventually got too steep and rocky to even push your bike. So up onto the shoulder it went. At this point, my choice to bring a 15kg, six inch travel bike was not looking like such a great idea. Anyway, no turning back now, just keep moving forward. There were already some stunning views and we really felt that we were in the mountains. After about 3 hours we reached a ridge which looked like the col but was in fact just a ridge with a small hut on it. We in fact still had a good hour to go before we would finally make it to our destination.
When we reached the refuge, I was surprised how good I felt. We sorted out our refuge slippers, checked in and were shown to our bunks. The refuge was huge - way bigger than I had imagined - and was packed as well. I reckon there were 80 people staying there that night. Dinner was served at 7pm so we quickly got changed out of our sweaty riding gear and into our warm evening attire. It had been a beautifully warm day but we were at 2500m, the sun had gone down and it just felt a little cold and damp.
We sat down for a well deserved beer and then dinner was served. At this point I think my body just went into shock. I was absolutely shattered. I don't think I had realised how hungry I was. I could hardly pick up my cutlery to eat with. After about an hour, a good feed and a couple more beers, I was back in the room. We had a quick look at the map so we knew roughly what was in store for the next day and the early to bed. Breakfast at 7am.