I was in no rush to start as, even lying in my sleeping bag, I could hear
from the traffic passing outside that the roads were still wet. Even so 17 hours
in bed is too much, even for me, so I got up and climbed back up to the Lautaret.
The snow had stopped but it was a cold, wet, miserable day. I would normally have
had another meal at the restaurant, and hoped that the weather might improve, but
in the early morning everything was still shut. My legs had felt fairly good on
the climb, and the climb had kept me warm, but I didn't need much inactivity at
the pass before realising that a rapid decision might be good.
I was out of food, and a descent towards Grenoble was the only sensible
option, so I set off. Immediately my fingers felt the cold so, every kilometer or
so, I stopped to warm up my hands. On one stop, I felt dizzy too. This, in itself,
was nothing new as I often pass out when the discussion turns medical, or when a
hypodermic is waved in my direction, but it had never happened while I was simply
out riding a bike. Normally I would just lie down until I felt better but, where I
was, my only options were tarmac and long wet grass. I lowered my head, over the
handlebars, and waited for the feeling to pass. I woke up in the long grass and,
when I had crawled out from under the bike, I noticed that three guys had arrived.
One of them
was talking on his mobile phone, and another asked if I was OK. I said I was fine,
but just a bit cold. The next thing I knew I was waking up again, in the long
grass. This was in theory a summer holiday, and I wasn't carrying too much in the
way of warm clothes, but I soon found out that I could wear two waterproof jackets
at the same time. I also finished off my bottle of Coca-cola and, after walking
around for a few minutes, I felt OK to continue. Then the ambulance arrived. I
told them I was OK but they had a very "We'll be the judge of that!" attitude.
I managed to assure them that I hadn't been involved in an accident, and that
I'd been stationary when I fell off, and I let them measure my pulse, blood
pressure, and blood sugar. They agreed that I seemed OK, but they felt that I
should see a doctor to be on the safe side, and they took me down to La Grave to
see one. The doctor examined me more thoroughly. She agreed that I was OK, and
charged me 30 Euros. The ambulance had been free. I refuelled at the pâtisserie,
got my bike back from the police station, and cycled down to the town of Le Bourg
d'Oisans. Here I decided it was time for a hotel, a hot shower, a couple of beers,
and a proper meal, and the Hotel des Alpes provided all of these.