Some people might incorrectly tell you that the Col de l’Iseran is the highest pass in Europe. It’s not. It is however, the highest paved pass in the Alps and at 2770m, that’s high enough for us. High enough in fact, for us to have decided not to go over it.
One week before we crossed from Italy into France we decided to take one of the lower and quicker routes over the Alps involving only 1 pass of 1854m. One day before the cycle we were told that the pass we were planning to take was nice, and it was easier and quicker, but you were not REALLY in the mountains. It dawned on us that pretty soon we’d be in the Netherlands where not only were there no mountains but we’d be living below sea level. We changed our plans and decided to go over one pass of 2083m (Mont Cenis) followed by the Col de l’Iseran (2770m). It was a great decision.
The climb to the top of Iseran was relatively short but brutal. Hardened cyclists in full Tour de France spandex and carbon fibre bicycles would literally applaud us on their way up. Dragging 40-50kg of bike and luggage up the mountain meant we were so slow that the same cyclists would applaud us again on their way down. It was one of the toughest climbs we have done on this whole trip but the rewards were spectacular. The scenery at the top and on the long downhill were breathtaking.
Although this wasn’t the highest point that we had cycled on this trip, it would certainly be the highest point for the rest of this trip. Standing at the top it really felt like our journey was nearing its conclusion. The beginning of the end, so to speak. It wouldn’t of course be “all downhill from here”, neither literally nor metaphorically. There would be many more ups and downs to come but the trip would be over soon. Many people have asked us how it feels to be nearing the end. It is of course a strange feeling to know that after almost 2 years of cycling we’ll soon be going back to “normal” life. However, I’m not sad. I’m excited. Right now, arriving home is something I think about all the time and I can’t wait. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still loving the trip and still enjoying all the exciting things that are happening along the way, but there is something romantic about finishing the trip by cycling into your own house that I can’t wait for. Especially at the thought of finally seeing friends and family. Unfortunately the Corona virus quarantine rules won’t really allow the fully imagined Hollywood ending reunion but that’s ok. It’s about time Frouke and I had a dose of real life. 14 days of quarantine, stuck in my parents house doesn’t sound too bad. I could do with a change anyway.
Read more about our trip, the 26 refugee children we are supporting and how to donate here: