Last two rides of the summer

Well, all good things must come to an end, and after five weeks here, I am due to return to Devon and some work to make up for all the fun I’ve been having. It’s a good job I enjoy my work, otherwise I’d find it almost impossible to tear myself away from here.

Anyway, true to this summer’s weather here, the last two days have been mixed: while there’s been glorious sunshine, the wind’s been gusting up to 30mph and 50mph on the two days, according to the météo, and Vercors has been shrouded in cloud (as in the first photo). So I adapted plans, kept off the highest ground, and got some miles in.

The first ride needed to be a bit of an epic, so over Col de la Chaudière and heading south west to the Rhône, then north (including a stretch of Via Agrippa from Roman times) into a very stiff wind (“un petit vent” according to the météo – I wonder what a big wind is like!), and back home via Livron and Crest. A tiring but satisfying ride in Drôme Provençale, quite different in character from the Diois area: lots of pan-flat, fertile plain, and an abundance of crops such as cherries. 112 miles, including plenty of new ones for me. One warning though: the water fountains down in these parts were mostly either turned off, or clearly stated “Eau non potable”. If it hadn’t been for a random picnic stop I stumbled across on the N85, I’d have been knocking on someone’s door asking for water. (Incidentally, don’t be afraid to ask if you are in this situation – people are generally only to pleased to help.)

And the last ride (still a “petit vent”) was chosen to keep out of a pretty mad wind: one small but satisfying col (Col de la Croix) bits of amazing tailwind, including the lovely bit of road south from Beaufort-sur-Gervanne, and the customary block headwind coming north into Pontaix. These two last rides bring the total mileage for the five weeks to 1920, so my legs are probably glad that the rest of my body will be mostly otherwise occupied for a few weeks before my October return here.

And as I let my neighbours know about my comings and goings, they once again lamented the poor summer. Well, yes, I know that it’s been cooler and rainier than an average Diois summer; but I’ve only been rained on properly once, and have still ended up with tan-lines that might amuse other punters on my return to the swimming baths. So, all in all, a splendid five weeks, no complaints. Especially as it looks like there will be a bumper grape harvest for next year’s Clairette.

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