Early October With the first snows begining to fall in the Alps we made a last tour of the classic cols for this season. We were greeted by a dinner of raclette and comfortable beds at the Chalet d’Augustine on the Col de la Madeleine road just above the town of La Chambre in the Arc river valley. Our goal was to climb the Glandon and Croix de Fer the next day and make a circuit back to La Chambre – 43 miles. We awoke to a great breakfast of local cheese & charcuterie, yogurt and plenty of good coffee. We suited up and drove down to La Chambre to park and launch from there. We crossed out of town, over the Arc, the autoroute and rail lines heading to the Fréjus tunnel and Italy. The climb begins shortly once out of town and wends up on great road surface, small farms and pastureland. At about mile ten it opens up to high pasture land and the final switchbacks to the Col du Glandon. We were met by snowflakes in the air and a desire to get over the Croix de Fer (two miles on) and down to the valley so we could generate some warmth by pedalling. We rounded a bend, and a charming sheperdess (bergère en français) in her ski parka was bouncing up and down to stay warm, while her collie was making sure the sheep stayed in line. She laughed at the site of us, and said there was a cafe a few miles down that was open. We made a beeline for it to warm up over a double espresso. We descended in rain and were very pleased to get back to the Augustine for a cold beer and raclette warmed via a hardwood charcoal brazier device – very cool, and delicious!