From buttery to trop fait

In a fit of pique and pre-emptive depression after the Brexit vote, I decided there was only one way to cope. As an Anglo-Australian woman living in France, I needed cheese. Thankfully, it was the Friday market, and my favourite cheeseman would be there.

I have a bit of a special relationship with my cheeseman and his sidekick – let’s call her the young cheeselady – or at least I like to think I have a special relationship. I see him at least once a week and he recognises a fellow cheese lover. Every Tuesday – and frequently Friday – I waltz up and ask the same question “what’s good today”. And they respond “everything is good”. With a laugh. They’re both honest about their likes and dislikes, and they have a fine memory for what I’ve tried and what I’ve not. It has become one of my favourite weekly rituals – the waltzing, the asking, the tasting, the eventual purchasing of pretty much every cheese they suggest, generally in larger quantities than I really need.

When one thinks of French cheese, brie is generally the first thing that comes to mind. But there is so much more, particularly in the Alps where Beaufort and fondue is about all anyone things of. Instead, there is a wide range of soft and hard cheeses, from cow, sheep, and goat’s milk, most of it raw.

As I stood before the cheese counter yesterday, I found myself suddenly uninspired. I selected a local tomme de chèvre, a creamy St Felicien, a buttery Morbier, and truly vile St Nectaire. Perhaps “trop fait” would be a more diplomatic term. When I tasted it at the market, I grimaced and mumbled that it was strong. But I purchased it anyway because I like a challenge. And I refuse to be defeated by a cheese.


Clockwise from top left: St Felicien, Tomme de Chèvre, Morbier, St Nectaire

After that introduction, it is worth starting with that one. The smell, as soon as I open the fridge, is overpowering. It only gets stronger as the St Nectaire sits on the shelf, warming before lunch. I slice a side off the wedge and remove the rind. Sometimes I eat the rind on the cheese but in the case of these Alpine varieties it is neither obligatory nor generally recommended. It is hard to describe the smell. Sometimes when cheese is a little over, it has almost a mouldy smell as if it has lost its flavour. Other times, you get that sour, acrid scent that burns into the back of your nose. As I write this, I am waving the cheese to my nose in an effort to narrow down the stink. It is almost rotten, like the durian of the cheese world. Like old gym socks left in the bottom of the washing basket, only to be discovered 3 months after a particularly sweaty soccer match. Played in the mud. it smells like a sweaty saddle pulled off the back of dying horse. I am rarely defeated but this is too much. I pair the cheese with a slice of ripe summer heirloom tomato and bread, which helps it go down. Perhaps in the end, the bark is worse than the bite.

Generally, when I find the cheese not particularly to my liking, I hide it in a quiche or tartiflette, where melted its flavour is more tolerable. Or if the cheese is especially boring, I might also use it to cook. But in this case, I am not quite sure what to do with the odorous offender.

But perhaps I simply had a particularly bad example of the St Nectaire, which may well be quite pleasant. The cheese itself comes from the Auvergne region in central France. The smell – sometimes more pungent than others – is described as straw and mushrooms, the fragrance derived from an ageing process in an old cellar. A classic ‘farmers’ cheese, it should be buttery and soft, with a slightly sour taste. The cheese has a long and rich history, having been apparently served to and admired by King Louis XIV. Anyway, if you see it, give it a go, but perhaps have a couple of glasses of wine first if you can smell it from across the room.

The second cheese, the St Felicien, is the opposite. A crowd


St Felicien is hard to stop eating once you start…

pleaser with its creamy texture, while raw milk makes it just interesting enough to place it above brie on the adventure scale. It doesn’t have a rind like the bries or camemberts of French cheese fame and it is absolutely delicious. It melts in your mouth, spreads perfectly on fresh bread or toast, and has a far more complex flavour than I expected.

Apparently, it was originally made from goat’s milk in the 13th century but now this Rhone-Alps cheese is made from raw cow’s milk. It is related to the particularly pretty St Marcellin, which is about half the size and served in little terracotta pots at the local cheese shop to preserve the shape. Left out, the cheese will ooze over the counter as the flavour improves. If you are a soft cheese lover then keep this one on your list.

The next cheese, the Morbier, has an interesting story if not a particularly exciting taste. The Morbier is from modern-day Jura, north of Geneva and was originally a layered cheese. The dark line splitting the cheese comes from the original way it was produced. When farmers reached the end of the day, they often did not have enough curds to make a new cheese so they poured what was left in the mould and covered with ash to preserve it. In the morning, they poured a new layer of cheese on top. Today the cheese is generally made in one sitting.

The cheese itself is semi-soft with a buttery, delicate flavour. I find it almost a bit like a havarti, which is probably a sacrilege. Anyway, it is delicious if in my opinion a little unexciting. Or perhaps only in comparison to the first two.

The final cheese was what I almost treat like a comfort cheese after over two months in the Alps. A Tomme de Chèvre – indeed any Tomme – is always delicious, easy to pair, and agreeable to almost anyone. It is mildly adventurous without being too overwhelming. And I always find it satisfying. In fact, I often just slice it off and eat it alone, without bread. I find its substance satisfying. Perhaps this is what I like most about the local semi-soft cheeses. The sheep’s ones are a little more delicate while the chèvre is, for want of a better word – a bit squishier. Sometimes they have air bubbles that somehow just make it more fun. If you really want to piss off the French, this is a good cheese to play with … if you dare.

It also tastes fabulous with tomatoes, fig jam, honey, and pretty much anything else. The longer I live here, the more I can appreciate the subtle differences between them, and delight at finding a new one from the Aravis or the Bauges.



Plateau des Glières

The Plateau des Glières holds a special place in French local – and national – history. A limestone plateau on the Bornes Massif, the Glières was an important site of the French Resistance during the Second World War. The plateau’s location – and inaccessibility – made it an ideal location for arms supply drops by the British. After three drops in early 1944, the Battle of Glières left 121 dead as the resistance faced 5,000 German & Vichy soldiers. The site now boasts a memorial built in 1973.*

Personally, I was originally drawn by the promise of a 10 km climb averaging 10%. I was pleasantly surprised when the ride out past Thorens-Glières was beautiful. Heading out from Annecy, take the D5 towards Thorens-Glières as the road winds through Annecy-le-Vieux and around the base of the imposing Parmelan. The route is generally rolling as you approach the base of the climb, the cliffs rising on both sides as you head deeper into the valley. If you are lucky, you might catch a waterfall cascading over the edge.

The climb itself is mostly as advertised: a slow grind, averaging 10%.  Luckily, if it’s warm, you’ll be in the shade, which while you miss the views, tends to make the climb itself more comfortable. And even more thankfully, it ends at around 7 km, rather than the 10km a lot of people will tell you.  glieresgrade

Realising you’ve reached the edge of the plateau, the sense of relief is palpable but don’t stop and hang around, cruise down to the plateau itself for a fairly gentle false flat till you reach the Resistance Monument. Like so many climbs in the Alps, the Plateau hosts nordic skiing in the winter. And when we were there, it was hosting hoards of school kids visiting the famous local site. If you are keen for a longer loop, I believe you can descend the other side of the Plateau but most of the time, people treat it as an out-and-back ride from Annecy.

On the return, you’ll do well to remember that despite being an out-and-back climb, there are still some short rolling sections on the way home. My tired legs felt every one of them!



*All of this information has been gleaned from Wikipedia. Absolutely none of it has been verified independently so feel free to correct me 

Entrevernes & Col de la Frasse

Entrevernes and Col de la Frasse are hidden gems in Annecy’s vast network of valleys, cols, and quiet country roads. From Annecy, head south along the bike path until Duingt, and take the right hand turn up towards the camp grounds on Route d’Entrevernes.


A misty climb

A pretty climb, the road winds up through villages and fields, copses and springs. While the road to Entrevernes is only 4 km, the 8% grade will get the heart rate up. And upon arrival, you will be greeted by cows with bells around their necks – often blocking the street – as well as traditional fromageries and alpages.


But continue on through the village and take a right hand turn up to Col de la Frasse and you will be rewarded by one of the most deserted corners of the local area. The road continues for another 5 km at 7% and in early summer the fields of flowers, snow-capped peaks, crumbling farmhouses, chalets

IMG_6353 (1)

End of the road

, herds of goats with oversized bells clanging around their necks, and misty glades make this one of my favourite places to ride. Unfortunately, the road can be rough, particularly when there are roadworks or logging. It can also be wet or suffering from the after-effects of moving cows from pasture to pasture… Your bike will almost certainly require a good wash after this ride. But that shouldn’t stop you. The road flattens out and descends slightly before the final half kilometre to the top. Or more accurately, a MTB/hiking trail to the real Col de la Frasse. One day, when I get into MTB, I’ll come back and complete the loop over Col de la Frasse and down the other side.



The view coming back down from Col de la Frasse to Entrevernes

The descent is short and quick but try to take your time and enjoy the vistas. From Entrevernes, you will be rewarded by some particularly lovely views over the lake and Château Ruphy Duingt.


Be particularly careful on the descent from Entrevernes as the road is in serious need of repaving. Two of the turns are especially bumpy and there are occasionally cars coming up the other side.






A late May snow makes for stunning views over Lac d’Annecy & Duingt




Alpe d’Huez & Criterium du Dauhpiné

The great thing about having cycling friends visit is that it gives you an excuse to go a little further afield. Our original plan was to tackle the Marmotte route, a grueling 150+ km ride that takes in the Cols Glandon, Telegraphe, and Galibier before finally ending at the summit of Alpe d’Huez. But plans change, and so this one still remains to be done. Instead, we decided to take a quick spin up Alpe d’Huez before heading to Vaujany to watch the climbers come in on Stage 5 of the 2016 Criterium du Dauphiné.

The Alpe d’Huez has a mythic quality. With 21 turns and 29 appearances in the Tour de France, for many of the people we saw on the hill that day it represents a singular challenge and monumental achievement once conquered. For anyone who has ever watched a Tour or found themselves on two wheels, this is the iconic climb. So we figured we would join the club of thousands and drove to Bourg d’Oisans to the start.

Let me get this out of the way at the beginning. As iconic and mythic this climb might be, the reality is a hectic mess of bikes of all types, photographers, tour vans, and regular traffic, culminating in a thoroughly anti-climatic summit finish.

AlpedHuezIn terms of the climb itself, the first two kilometres are tough. As soon as you hit the base of the hill, the 11 – 12% grade claims its first victims and it is not uncommon to see a few miserable souls walking their bikes. From here, it settles into a more steady 7 – 9% for the remaining 11 km. There is an unfortunate lack of bollards reminding you of the distance and gradient on the way up but the confusion really begins when you think you’ve reached the top. The tacky ski station at the top has no summit sign and only hoards of cyclists milling about in cafés. To reach the veritable summit, just keep cruising up the hill and following the Tour de France signs. Then the real fun begins as you battle the traffic all the way down to the bottom.

IMG_6427But be sure to stop at one of the classic bikes in the median strip on the way down and get your Alpe d’Huez pictures. It’s a classic climb and one that should be done if you’re ever in the area. But living in the Alps has spoiled me. On the plus side, the kind of climb – 13 km at an average > 8% would once have seemed intimidating. Now it’s just another col. Enjoy!

The Criterium du Dauphiné was the real highlight of the outing. I’d love to come back and climb up to Vaujany, a stunning ski station at the top of a steep valley, complete with waterfalls and alpine churches. The perfect place for watching a Froome – Porte summit finish.

Col de la Forclaz

Another Annecy classic, Col de la Forclaz offers one of the best lake views around. When the sun is shining, watch dozens of paragliders jump off the cliff at the top, their bright parachutes twirling up the mountains and across the lake. Also, the 2016 Tour de France will be passing over the Col de la Forclaz during the 19th Stage.

While neither ascent is easy, the northern approach is definitely less grueling. The final kilometre hitsColdelaForclazBernard 11% average but otherwise, it’s a steady climb.

Col de la Forclaz via Menthon-St-Bernard: Coming from Annecy, I like to climb via Col de Bluffy. The village of Bluffy is a short (approximately 3 km) climb at around 4% and it gets you off the main road and climbing Forclaz sooner. Just keep following the road through Bluffy and after a short descent you’ll take a left at the T-intersection and join the main route to Forclaz.


Château Menthon-St-Bernard

If climbing from the other side, this is also the way I would recommend descending (i.e. take the right hand turn to Bluffy rather than waiting till Talloires, as you’ll have less time on the main road/bike path).


On the way up from Bluffy, be sure to look right for a view of the Château at Menthon-St-Bernard.

Once you make the left turn, you have another 14 km averaging 5% to look forward to. While I generally prefer the climb from the other side, this approach affords one of my favourite views of the glacier-formed mountains on the western side of the lake, particularly when they’re still snow-capped.


View from Col de la Forclaz

If you still have legs once you reach the top, take the road up to the paraglider parking lot for even more stunning views of the valley. But be warned, once you’ve passed the “authorised vehicles only” section, it really ramps up. The hundred meter, 17% section is over pretty quickly but you have to slog it out.





Col de la Forclaz via Montmin: this is the tougher side, and my personal favourite. From ColdelaforclazVersonnethe bike path, it will be clearly signposted at Versonne. The climb is only 9 km,


Lac d’Annecy from Col de la Forclaz

and the first kilometre is a false flat but it soon ratchets up and you’ll be slogging up 10% and 11% grades. Once you hit the hairpins, more than half the climbing is done. Shortly afterwards, you reach the village of Montmin and the col will be visible on your left. With the end in sight, the relief of the 1.5 km flat through Montmin is short-lived before the final 1 km at 11% up to the summit.

Regardless of which way you choose to descend, always keep an eye out for cars. This is a popular place for Annecy visitors, particularly on weekends and public holidays and the roads can get busy!

The Many Faces of Semnoz

Semnoz is Annecy’s closest HC climb. Approached several ways, including from the city centre, it can be an at times grueling slog to the 1655m summit. But on a clear day you’ll be rewarded with a view towards the high alps and Mt Blanc. Semnoz is named for the ski station on top though the peak is technically called the Crêt de Châtillon and gained notoriety in the 2013 Tour de France when Nairo Quintana dropped Chris Froome to take the Annecy – Annecy Semnoz stage. It was also where stunt rider Romain Marandet jumped Quintana, Froome and Joaquim Rodríguez on the hill.

Everyone has their favourite route – up and down – and I will start with my favourite. There may only be two roads to the summit but there are numerous ways to get to the halfway point on both sides.

1. Annecy side (the Direct Route)

SemmozAnnecyThere are many reasons why this is my favourite – the winding road up through the forest, the relative quiet and the good road surface – but the most important is perhaps that it’s simply the quickest way to the top. From the roundabout at the old hospital, you’re looking at a 17km climb to the summit, with helpful bollards at each km reminding you of the gradient and distance left. The first half is the easiest, and includes a decent false flat past the school at kilometre 6. And things kick up after the Quintal intersection with a steady 8 – 9% on the final 7km. There are some views out over the valley to the west with you hit 5km and when the climb starts to feel more like a “real” col – think hairpin bends – before you reach the ski statio


A snowy view in April

n. For me, this is always the toughest section – you can see the summit but then the 2km sign reminds you that you’ve still got another ways to go. Still, the views from the top are among my favourite in Annecy, and you know you’ve earned them.

Incidentally, this is also my favourite descent. It hasn’t got the lake views of Leschaux but it’s got a wide road, generally well surfaced, some great banked turns,and when you approach the Quintal turnoff on the way down you can really bomb it as the road first straightens and then flattens out. Watch out for cars – and pedestrians! – on the final few km especially but otherwise, enjoy the fast way down.

2. Quintal side (the Tour de France Route)

Made famous by the 2013 Tour de France, this stage put Semnoz on the map. This route assumes you’ve already made it to the town on Quintal, which can be reached via the D5 from Annecy – a fairly gentle 10km climb through Seynod and up to Quintal – or from the Bauges side (Viuz-la-Chiésaz). If you’re feeling strong at the end of the Massif des Bauges loop, this is a a bit of a slog but you’ll earn that beer!

This is also the steepest ascent to Semnoz – with the gradient hitting 14 or 15% at times – right out of Quintal village. Steep but pretty, you’ll wind up through the forest for 4km to join the main Semnoz climb for an average 9% for the remaining 7km to the top.

This is definitely my second favourite way up and if only it didn’t require the slightly unpleasant climb through the suburbs of Seynod, it’d probably top the list. And it’s a great little climb for intervals – either slogging it up and down the Quintal – Semnoz intersection segment, or continuing all the way to the top.

3. Leschaux three ways (at least)

SemnozSevrierIf you’re unsure whether your fitness is up to the summit, or if the mountain weather is looking grim, Col de Leschaux is a great intermediate way up. Also, if you’re training for the longer alps climbs such as the Grand and Petit Saint Bernard, then Semnoz via Leschaux is the closest you’ll get around Annecy. Sévrier to Semnoz via Leschaux is approximately 26 km. Regardless of which way you climb, you will be rewarded by stunning lake views on the way up. Or enjoy the views on the way down after toughing it out on the Annecy or Quintal routes.

Col de Leschaux via Sévrier: this is perhaps the most common route to the summit and the climb to Col de Leschaux is a great introduction to the alps. I’ve seen relatively inexperienced cyclists climb the 12 km at 4% on hyrbids and mountain bikes with ease.  Just follow the signs from the bike path up from Sévrier. 

Col de Leschaux via St Eustache: there are technically two routes via St Eustache – the first begins in St Jorioz itself, while the second starts a little further south on the bike path but it’s well signposted on the right if coming from Annecy. This second route is many local cyclists’ favourite given the lack of cars, and other cyclists. As you wind up through the valley through picturesque French villages through St Eustache and then La Chapelle Saint Maurice, I’ve no doubt you’ll agree. This is the longest of all the approaches to Semnoz, and it varies from a gentle climb to rolling. It’s also a great connector to build out a lumpy lake route (taking in Col de la Forclaz as well) or even heading over to do a Bauges loop. The other benefit of taking this route to Leschaux is you get a fantastic view of the switchbacks up to Semnoz, a taste of what’s to come if you continue on to the summit!

Col de Leschaux via the Bauges: you can also get to Leschaux from the Bauges side of the Massif. I’ve only ever gone in the other direction but I’ll be sure to come back and fill this section out once I’ve ridden it.

From Leschaux to Semnoz: this is the gentler of the two final ascents, averaging 6% from Leschaux to the summit. The final 4 km feel tough after the long climb from the lake, as the road narrows and potholes and rocks litter the road. Watch out on the descent! At the time of writing (June 2016), the road still hadn’t been repaired and it can be tough to see around tight corners.

Regardless of which way you choose to go up – or down – it’s a fantastic climb, and a really great way to test your climbing legs if new to the alps.

Springtime in the Bauges

One of my favourite local rides is a 100 km loop around the Bauges Massif. The quiet country roads, free of cars and other cyclists, the dramatic scenery on the climb up to Mt Revard, and even a lively boulangerie make this ride a treat. Although a warning – the backside of the Massif is generally cooler than the weather in Annecy so be warned if doing the ride in spring or winter… as I found out one day when I got stuck climbing in the snow!

Starting from Lake Annecy, start the ride by climbing up Col de Leschaux. I generally take the route nearest the town, from Sévrier. It’s an easy climb – around 4% average for 13 km Coldeleschaux – and a great introduction to Annecy. It can even be done on a mountain bike or hybrid, and you will be rewarded with lake and valley views.

From the intersection, I take the pretty country road to Bellecombe en Bauges before heading towards Lescheraines. From there, another pretty little country road, via St Francois des Sales which will start the winding climb up to Col de Planpalais. It’s about 8 km at 6% but the overall climb from St Francois des Sales all the way to Mt Revard is much longer. Once you reach the plateau of Col de Planpalais – one of the many Nordic ski stations that dot the Parc Naturel des Bauges –  it’s only another 8 km at an average 4% till you reach Mt Revard. The views are stunning as you approach, the rocky mountains to the left along the Planpalais plateau, while at the summit, a café sits almost precariously atop a cliff overlooking Aix-les-Bains.

You’re rewarded for your efforts with a long, fast descent to Montcel. At this point,


The view from Mt Revard over Aix-les-Bains

I usually take the little shortcut to the right
to Montcel and then turn right towards Sainte-Offange for another little quiet side road to loop back in the direction of Annecy. After a nice flat, rolling section, take the road to Cusy. This is where I normally stop at the local Boulangerie, which saved me once when I was bonking, and another time when I was recovering from borderline hypothermia. And they make a delicious tropezienne.


Pont de l’Abime

A quick bite and you’re back on the Annecy – Aix-les-Bains road, a fairly popular cycling route. But once out of Cusy, you’ll see what makes it to lovely as you cross the Pont de l’Abime over a deep gorge at and wind up the kind of road you see on cycling brochures to Gruffy.

By this time, you’re less than 20 km


The gorge at Pont de l’Abime

from Annecy and you’ve done all the hard work. Don’t follow the cycle route but take the short climb to Quintal as one final piece of work. If you’re still feeling fresh then you can continue on up to the road to Semnoz and enjoy a sharp descent home. But be warned, this is a 4 km climb that is frequently in the double digits. If, like me, you’re ready to head home by this point, then follow the D5 back to town from Quintal. Remember to take the D5 towards Sacconges at the roundabout to avoid the traffic and shopping centres in Seynod.

A great ride in most weather but especially delightful in spring.

For more detailed info:


Now for a little post about cheese…

I know this was intended to be a blog about cycling but I spend so much time (and money) exploring local cheeses that I figured I should write those up as well.

When asked, most people would be hard pressed to come up with a local French Alps cheese, or at best perhaps the Beaufort. But while the Beaufort is lovely – and its cousin the Beaufort Alpage can be divine – the local fromage is surprisingly diverse. And the Beaufort is not technical a “local” variety, given that it is produced about 40 km away.


(left to right) Beaufort été and Abondance

But given it is the most famous, it’s worth starting with the Beaufort regardless. Produced in the Savoie since Roman times, the Beaufort belongs to the Gruyère family. It is made from raw milk and apparently the enormous size and round shape of the wheels was to help roll them down the mountains. The été (summer) and alpage (produced from the milk of a single herd, grazing in alpine pastures and then aged in a chalet) varieties are the most highly sought after, and accordingly priced. Apparently the yellow colour of these superior varieties comes from the flowers on which the cows graze in the summer.

The cheese on the right is a genuine local speciality, the Abondance. Also a raw-milk semi-hard variety, the Abondance has reportedly been produced in the Haute-Savoie since the 14th century when monks from the Sainte-Marie d’Abondance monastery were making the cheese for the papal enclave in Avignon. In 1990, the Abondance was granted the protection of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) label.

A delicate cheese worthy of any alpine tasting, the best tends to make my tongue tingle.

As always, best enjoyed with crusty French bread, the fresher the better! Bon appétit!

Time Megève

On June 5, I competed in my first Alps cyclosportive. A great day of racing – if a slightly bizarre course setup -but as always plenty of room for improvement.

AlexisArthur_TimeMegeveThe Time Megève Cyclosportive, now in its 13th year, is the first sportive on the Alpine calendar Like other cyclosportives in the region, it attracts a varied crowd. From British cycling tourists, to serious racers, to people who are just in it to finish (including one tandem team). Yet in response to safety concerns in the wake of the death of a cyclist in 2010, the organizers decided to neutralize the descents, making this race a little different. As the feed zones are generally within the neutralized zones, there is ample opportunity to hang about between the climbs, though most of the serious riders choose to move through pretty quickly in the hope of having company for the final 8km into Megève.

The sportive regularly attracts over 1000 riders across three courses (90km, 120km and 150km) with three female and six male age categories.

The 120km option this year was eventually only about 112km but with 2800m of climbing over three major cols.

The first 11km were neutralized, which made the roll out less stressful for someone without any race experience, like me. But as soon as everyone goes through the first chronometer at the base of the Col des Aravis, things picked up. The nature of the sportive – numerous courses, numerous categories and a mass start – means that the race feels more like an enduro time trial than a road race. And as a woman, I’m generally riding with people against whom I’m not racing. My only real tactic was to stick to moderate pacing over the climbs and if I saw a woman on a hill, be sure to drop her.

The first hill – Col des Aravis – climbs almost 12 km at an average 5 % making it a Aravis_Flumetrelatively easy start.

The descent to Thônes was neutralized, as was the fairly long route through the towns to the base of the second timed section.

I already knew the second climb – Col de la Croix Fry – as it’s not too far from Annecy. There are several sections that hit double digits but overall the average is less than 7% for just under 13km. From the summit, there’s a short descent (not neutralized) before one climbs 4km back up the other side of Col des Aravis.

After anothCroixFry_Thoneser neutralized – and fabulous – descent to Flumet – we hit Col des Saisies but via an alternate route without the reassuring bollards that indicate the number of km to the summit and the gradient. In total, the climb was around 13km and I would estimate the gradient at 6%.

One last neutralized descent followed and then I rolled over the final chronometer for the 8km timed return. For me, this was the toughest section of the day. I found myself alone and riding up a false flat into a headwind, desperately seeking someone to share the load but finding only a few stragglers coming off the 90km course and in no position to help out. I powered on to the finish and waited around for my results.

Unfortunately, this year’s women’s field was fairly small and while I was happy with my result (2nd place for the W1 category: women 18 – 39) and my ride, it would have been great to see more female riders out there. Out of the women’s field I came 3rd scratch in the 120km course and just scraped into the top 20 % of total riders (499). And now that my first French race is done, onto the next!


Welcome to the blog! Chances are, if you’ve found yourself here, you’re a lover of cycling or cheese, or live in the Alps, or all of the above. Which is great because so am I.

The rationale behind this little project was to write up my rides in the Annecy area as a resource for myself and my friends. Then I thought I might as well write up some of the cheeses I’ve been sampling. To help me remember them. And so the little cheese & bikes idea was born.

I’ll be writing up new rides as I do them and adding some of the older ones as I get around to it. Almost all of them are within (road) riding distance of Annecy – my home base – a fantastic place to be a cyclist. And if I ever get up the courage to try MTB, I’ll post those efforts too. And if you’re interested, most of these photos are opportunistic snaps with my iPhone 6.

And if you’re reading this and want to suggest a ride, or ask about a place I haven’t written up, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! Also, you can find me on strava and instagram @alexis_arthur


View of Lac d’Annecy from the road to Entrevernes