A couple more cols…

A short report on a ride I didn’t get round to last year, and including a col I lost my nerve on at New Year (but which George Humby braved the ice to reach): Col de Cabre (on the D93) and Col de Carabes, above Valdrôme. You’ll find the route on the ‘Routes’ page on this blog.

In fact, I decided to do it the opposite way from the route as devised. Looking at the map, the descent east from Col de Carabes looked very sketchy (it is!), and as it turned out, it was the right call, as the descent from Col de Cabre east was superb, and with a tailwind. But that ascent (as it was) to Col de Carabes was quite stunning: you get to look back down on a good part of the crazy road once you’re near the top. Thank goodness for mad French road builders of times past, and a system that manages to maintain them today.

So, an 84-mile route from home, in time for lunch at the busy little village of Serres, and lots of stops for water, making use of the many fountains along the route. That’s because it’s been 30C in the shade today: normal service has been resumed.

Back for an extended stay…

I’ve no complaints about my work in teaching – I’m lucky to have a varied ‘portfolio’, work with lovely pupils and colleagues, and get to do fabulous things like taking the Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra to play in the Montreux Jazz Festival (just last month). And of course, I’ve no complaints about the school holidays – indeed, it was one of the calculations about buying the house how many weeks a year I could use the house. This year it’ll be about nine weeks, five of which I’ve just started: I won’t see Devon for the whole of August. That’s a first for me. Recharging time. That’s the downside of a full teaching calendar: pretty complete exhaustion, both brain and body.

I’ve got friends coming for a week on August, but for now it’s me, the house, and the bike. I got here by a combination of car (to Exeter airport), plane (to Charles de Gaulle airport), trains (to Die, changing at Valence), and feet (to home). About 12 hours in all, but could have shortened that by a couple of hours if I hadn’t been cautious about transfer time at CdG. All very civilised, anyway, and not nearly as frazzling as driving.

Anyway, the first full day was, er, wet. (Of course it’s dry and sunny in Devon.) The second day started with obligatory visit to Die’s excellent market, to stock up on vegetables and plentiful and cheap soft fruit.

And after lunch, to business: the first proper ride. The Cannondale SuperSix was ready, clean and lubricated as I’d left it. Some air on the tyres, and a flat 45 miles out to Blacons and back. I know I’ve been way down on training miles this year, so I’m going to have to ride myself to proper fitness in the first couple of weeks.

I do have one particular ride I’d particularly like to try: a flat 100 miles along the Drôme and Rhône, and I want to see if I can do it at 20mph. I know I haven’t got it in me on Devon’s lumpy terrain and variable roads, and if I’m going to do it anywhere, it’ll be here. At 50 maybe it’s being optimistic, but I hope to give it a shot.

Just one photo for now: rain, and a rainbow over Romeyer at the end of my ride to Blacons. Very pretty, but I’d like to get back to the sunshine now please.