Roads lead to waypoints and although the Grenoble rest was tangible we still had a reasonble 50ish mile ride to get there. Cruising out of Aix Les Baines on a sunny sunday morning we used the Garmin to get us out of town, only to see the battery say it was low and then switch off altogether despite showing a full battery bar, the campsite plugs must have been on some funny voltage that has messed it up, I thought it was odd that a 30 minute charge had given it full battery. Back to paper maps we hopped on the correct road and enjoyed bike paths as good as Belgium all the way to Chambery a decent sized city. Once in downtown without a sat nav we had a trouble finding our way. The signage was poor and our navigation must have been even worse because we started seeing signs for Geneva when I thought we were heading the right way. We went round in circles for a good hour or two and ended up going for food and trying to figure out a passage out of this densley populated area which felt like a prison. The paper maps we have are good until you get to a place like this when the detail becomes to subtle to stay on the correct road, we are on bikes, its not like a car in which you can go direct for the motorway signs. The route has to be suitable for us to ride on.
Finally out we saw a sign for grenbole which read “45km” headphones in, Band of Horses on and what seemed like minutes later the signs we reading “18km”. The rain began to pour as we descended into the valley amgonst the enormously spectacular mountains that surround Grenoble. Getting into downtown we then had the problem of actually find the Hotel Royal we had booked without the Garmin. We were shivering wet using the last juice of battery on my ipod to hit googlemaps for hotel directions. 15 days straight riding without break with the hotel and promise of laundry and rest could have been across the street and we couldn’t have known. Alas we found it 750 metres from our standing point, the guy on reception hooked us up with bike storage downstairs and was very accomodating to what must have looked like 2 slightly sunburnt baggy eyed drowned rats.
I had taken a bath that night and took another this morning, human again. The rest day got off to a bad start though, the bikes stored downstairs were in complete darkness and we couldn’t find the light switch. I managed to knock my bike over and bent the left hood of my handlebars inwards, its rideable and works but hugely frustrating. Most Geneva bike shops were just city hire joints so after riding to the nearest place looking for a tune up we were annoyed to find the place did not open until the afternoon. France is pretty bad for that, hardly anything ever seems to be open even in a big city like this! Friday, Saturday and Sunday you can almost guarantee most places are closed, it seems they don’t really do Monday’s either as a camping store which we also need says its closed mondays. The rest of the week things only seem to be operating at about 75%. My beloved pattiserie’s are open on the mornings but by 11am as we pass through towns they have all closed, back home this used to be the case on Sundays, although now places are open every day of the year but here its pretty extreme.
We also needed a laundromat desperatly having packed dirty gear into a single pannier, searching gmaps thouroughly as we have in a few places it turns out France doesn’t really have them. We did pass what looked like a laundrette on a downhill yesterday but weren’t about to trek back. Detergent bought from the supermarket it was to be another bathtub job, surely not another bad rest day? We got back to the hotel, asked for the room key only for the french lady to explain the cleaner had broken the room lock and nobody could access chambre 15 for a couple hours until it was fixed. Bemused, she offered food from the restaurent but we had just eaten, about to stroll back into town we had an idea. I went back to reception fetched the detergent box and asked if she could stick our clothes in the hotel washing machines, she obliged, laundry covered! The day was turning in our favour, we strolled to the supermarket to pick up supplies for the big match later, England – France. We would be avoiding locals by watching the game from the comfort of our hotel room, C’mon England!