I’ve been extolling the virtues of this area amongst those who will listen since I was introduced to it two years ago. There’s no doubt that the Dutch know about it, to the extent that you are more likely to hear Dutch than French in the supermarkets during the peak season in the summer. But it’s still relatively little known to British folk, so I’ve been letting cyclists in on the ‘secret’ via a thread on Bike Radar forums.
One poster there who obviously has ridden quite a few miles here, and to whom the area is no ‘secret’ goes under the name ‘knedlicky’ on Bike Radar, and he (I’m assuming) kindly posted a couple of routes new to me. I’ve been feeling a bit guilty for not having ridden either… till today.
In fact, the route I rode today is slightly modified: I went from Die over the Col de la Croix to Beaufort:sur-Gervanne and Gigors, then over the Col de Jérôme Cavalli (a pre-war and wartime flying ace, killed in action in 1943) and up to the Col des Limouches again. Knedlicky suggested I return via the Col de Bacchus, but as I’ve done that (good) descent several times, I decided to descend the previously only-ascended Col des Limouches to Chabeuil, and from there to Crest and Die. I also intended to video the descent, as it’s quite a good one, but thanks to my not checking if the camera was charged, I only got four minutes of the fifteen-minute descent. I guess I’ll have to go and do it all over again sometime. It’s a good job I like riding both up and down hills, I suppose.
Incidentally, as it was decidedly warm, and I fancied getting home promptly, I ignored my previous advice and went from Chabeuil to Crest on the main road. With a strong tailwind it wasn’t too bad, and was certainly quick, but it’s still rather dull and has its fair share of big vehicles. If you’re not in a hurry, the other options would be much more pleasurable.
Lastly, if you do ride this route, save a bit of energy for the last 4km after the Col de Jérôme Cavalli and before the Col des Limouches. It’s a beautiful, quiet road over rolling countryside, which at the end makes little effort to wind round the hills: it just goes straight up them, with some of the sharpest little gradients I’ve come across round here. Pretty much like Devon, in fact.