La Piste Cyclable d’Annecy
We’ve just got back from our holidays by Lake Annecy in the French Alps. We seem to keep gravitating towards hills! The thing about Lake Annecy, though, is that there is a wonderful cycle path that runs the entire length of the lake along an old railway line.
We hired a tandem – it’s become a holiday essential now! Due to cost (it seems to be much more expensive there than other places we’ve been) and to manage fatigue, we hired one twice for a couple of days at a time. We went to Coup de Pompe ( http://www.coup-de-pompe.fr/) which is also a cafe (a plus!) and sits right on the cycle path, at Bredannaz.
I immediately noticed the difference using the hired tandem compared with our own, with Pete’s wonderful adjustments. I really appreciated them all the more when they weren’t there! Suddenly my legs were going round in full circles instead of mini ones without the adjusted crank shaft – much more tiring! Also, an unexpected difficulty was that my foot kept slipping off the pedal and I struggled to get it back on. Fortunately, the simple addition of a string loop on the pedal kept my foot in place – magic!
More string was also useful for keeping my stick secure on the bike, and a last piece was used to tie our bag to the seat post. Have string, will travel! Very chic we looked!
We were based at the southern, quieter, end of the lake, where both lake and valley fatten out. Sailing boats cut across the water, whilst dots of paragliders sweep the sky. You can head north up the lake, or south into the alpine valley and its peaceful hamlets.
There are plenty of villages if you head north so you can do a few kilometres, stop and admire the view, watch the world go by from a cafe, then head on or back as you wish. Even in the heat (and it did get a bit extreme for a few days) there’s a breeze from your own movement – better than walking!
You go through a tunnel near Duignt – and it really is impossible to pass through it without making train noises! If you travel north along it in the early evening just after sunset you can even cycle through the hillside back into the warmth, where the sun has yet to set.
The north side of the tunnel makes an excellent stopping point for a number of reasons: there’s a lovely view of the lake through pretty rooftops, it has a water pump and, best of all, a rock climbing wall, so you can watch other people doing crazy things whilst you rest.
All manner of people use the cycle path, from those who look like they are looking for the Tour de France with their aerodynamic gear, to those enjoying a gentle ride along a beautiful path (like us); there were roller bladers, recumbent cyclists, a wheelchair user, lots of families with a variety of contraptions for carrying their children, and we counted four other tandems in one day!