Spring must be coming…

Let’s say that this week hasn’t been very Mediterranean yet. The verges are covered in primroses, the farmers have been planting green crops, the snow is melting on all but the highest tops, and yet it’s feeling distinctly cool. There have been strong Mistral-type winds from the north, and the sun has been somewhat reluctant to show its face. Still (of course) I’ve managed a couple of 50ish-mile rides,  but today’s forecast of unbroken sunshine meant I had to do something bigger… even if the forecast turned out to be very optimistic.

Still, if you’re used to the vagaries of English weather, clouds and strong winds aren’t enough to deter, so today’s route of 85 miles (after some furniture moving for my English friends down here) went ahead as planned. It’s still too early to do big cols (some of the higher ones on the Vercors plateau are turned into ski runs in the winter), so I headed west and north up to Barcelonne and back via the Col Jérôme Cavalli and Gigors. The main reason for the route was to try a different way up to the col, via Combovin. (I’m guessing this would be ‘Sheepscombe’ in English.) These ways up to the plateau take on extra resonance when you’ve read how crucial they were in the Second World War (there are just seven roads up: two in the north, four in the west, one in the south, and none in the east.)

Anyway, the route was a corker: the photos begin just after Crest,  from where I avoided the unpleasant D538 by taking lovely side roads via les Picoux, Vaunaveys, Ourches and La-Baumes-Cornillanes. This is a pretty, lumpy undulating route (poorly signposted),  but it gives magnificent views down to Valence and the Rhône Valley. Quite a different feeling from Drôme valley routes.
The climb to the col is spectacular too, first up the side of the combe,  then hopping over to the next combe, at the base of which you once again see the fort at Barcelonne. I was going to end the series of photos at the col, but Les Trois Becs, which so often overlook routes all over the area, caught my eye on the D93 on the way back from Mirabel, and just had to have the snow-capped peak of la Pelle snapped.

The route: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/7375434

The tower at Crest, in front of the Trois Becs
The tower at Barcelonne
A hairpin on the ascent to the Col Jérôme Cavalli
Barcelonne tower from the climb up from Combovin
The northern bec of the Trois Becs

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