Departure day

I’ve a fairly good routine now on the day I leave: do the washing and get it out to dry first thing, go out for a shortish ride, lunch, tidy house, and then shut everything down and head to Valence for the night, ready for an early start the next morning.

All went to plan, including the weather: bright and breezy, good for both washing and cycling. A brisk northerly ruled out Vercors again (you’ll see its cloud cap in the photos), so I headed to col de Pennes via the Roanne valley and Aucelon, returning via Jansac and St Roman.

The Aucelon road is a hidden gem, and is worth cycling either way, as it hugs the contours, ascending when it can: it saves the steeper gradients to the end! There’s  a view around every corner, so it’s worth taking your time.

Interestingly, the floral display in evidence last June on the higher dry slopes was entirely missing: I guess delicate plant life there waits until warmth is more certain. The flowers photographed here were at lower, damper levels.

Anyway, a splendid little ride, nudging me just over 400 miles for the eight days, despite the less than ideal weather. And I’ve yet to visit Vercors this year: that will have to wait until my return in late July. I think it should be warmer then.

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The forecast held good: a warm ride in shorts and short sleeves. It’s been a long wait this year.

Even on a ‘standard’ ride (col de la Chaudière, Bourdeaux and Saoû), the first real tastes of spring are special. It’s lovely to see vines, lavender and walnut trees all starting to burst into life: they are all important contributors to the local economy. Plus, of course, there’s not a dull road round here anyway, at any time of year.

Almost spring – briefly

For a while today it almost felt like spring is around the corner. A favourite Drôme loop, with a quick stop at Piégros-la-Clastre (with its Romanesque church) and a cheeky col de Marignac on the return, had a taste of gentle sun and temperatures soaring above 15C.

There’s more water about than I’ve seen here, and even the river Sur (which carved out the Quint Valley) has water in it.

Mind you, so did my shoes after the cheeky col detour – a brief but distinctly damp shower reminded me of the week’s weather up till now.

But at least the sun had tempted my legs to don the shorts for the first time this spring. It’s about time too.

Dramatic clouds

The sun did deign to make an appearance today… but nowhere I happened to be. A standard loop to Valdrôme via the col de Prémol, and back via Luc-en-Diois certainly had some dramatic skies. And two new inner tubes and one new tyre did the job on the bike front.

You’ll see that spring is still reluctant here, from the ride scenes, but in the garden the cherry and greengage trees have made their minds up.

Saillans, punctures, and rain

I should have believed Meteociel today.

I tend to plan my days using Meteociel and La Chaine Météo for forecasts, Meteox for rainfall radar, and my (fallible) nose. After overnight snow on the Glandasse, a dry morning warmed up as the sun broke through. Had I been sensible I’d have ridden this morning instead of hoping for a bit more warmth and sunshine later and trusting the mountains to stop the approaching rain in the south. (Actually, to be fair to the mountains, they do often do that, whichever direction the rain is cpming from, so I’ll let them off this time.)

At least I’d taken the hint not to venture far, and after a puncture and a short photographic pause at the fascinating medieval village of Saillans (under the ever-present gaze of les Trois Becs), the rain, as promised by Meteociel, came in.

Wheels and feet

An all-over-grey day here, so no long ride. This morning was just a loop to Recoubeau, so I could be back in time for Die market.

This afternoon was a ride to St-Andéol-en-Quint, from where I walked with English friends and their dogs, over to Escoulin, via the col de St Andéol. And though it stayed grey, the views were definitely worth it, and not ones you’d get on my sort of wheels.

Weather, weather, and weather

I woke this morning to find last night’s washing considerably damper than I left it, and neither the balcony prospect nor the forecast gave much hope of a decent ride today.

But just for once, my reading of the clouds paid off: an improvised route to Cirque d’Archiane (with a bit of bonus geology) and Recoubeau (my plan to go over the col de Miscon was thwarted by its being closed still) avoided some heavy showers. There had even been some fresh snow over 1500m, and what with the gusty wind, and lovely sunshine in the later part of the ride, I seemed to have experienced most weathers today, whilst staying dry (mostly).

The river in the pictures is the Bez, and the bird of prey is as yet unidentified. (The photo was shot at some distance on my Sony – the rest are phone photos.)

Easter 2018: un ciel gris

I arrived here yesterday, after a journey made ‘more interesting’ by the current SNCF strikes: no trains were running, so I spent seven hours on roads rather than under four hours by rail. But at least I got home in the day.

2018 has, apparently, been one of the gloomiest in France for some time, with this area getting something like 30% less sunshine than normal. The week’s weather certainly looks mixed, and today is a mixture of grey skies and rain.

Today’s ride is a standard gentle one, up the Quint Valley, over Col de la Croix, down the Gervanne, and back up the Drôme. I’m typing this sitting in a bus shelter while a shower passes…


A grand départ

After yesterday’s drenching today’s weather came as a great relief – not only as I was able to get out for a dry (if breezy) ride, but also as I’ve been able to dry everything from yesterday’s ride, and clean the house with windows and doors wide open. I’ve even let the fire go out.

The ride was to Luc-en-Diois and most of Gorges-des-Gâts, the latter mostly to see if the amazing icicles we saw on Wednesday were still there. They weren’t. Still, the gorge is always worth seeing, and the gentle descent back to Châtillon always a delight.

One bonus from yesterday: a Meyrosse which was full enough to make the waterfall near home especially pretty. I’ll be going that way on my departure back to Devon tonight.

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Il pleut…

It serves me right for thinking the worst of the rain had passed. Well, it probably had – it had been raining all day, with some heavy downpours mixed in – but that didn’t mean to say I wouldn’t get drenched. By 3pm, any ambitions for a longer ride had passed, and a quick Quint loop was the remaining option.

I got drenched.

And as I returned home, blue sky appeared for just long enough for the sun to put in an appearance before disappearing behind some well-washed mountains. Great timing. Oh well, weather will be weather. And it’s what makes the area what it is.