It’s nice when a plan comes together. A player and parent from the Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra (which I manage) are in Avignon, and we arranged to meet in Valence – transport by train (them) and bike (me). I hadn’t ridden in Valence since passing through on the epic final leg of my Exeter to Die ride of 2012, so it seemed a nice opportunity.
I also had in mind my return leg: the last of the 1000m+ cols was the Col de Tourniol leading up to Leoncel, and though it would be a long ride, there would be plenty of interest, and, today, a strong tailwind for the 20 mile descent from Leoncel to Mirabel et Blacons.
So, a long story short: a lovely lunch in the centre of Valence; a splendid 110-mile ride (ignoring the accuracy of my prediction of the challenges of finding the correct road out of big French towns, and the punishing headwind back in the Drôme valley); and that final local col ticked off, with it being one of the best of the lot.
I’ve got several photos of the col, which I’ll put in a separate report, so for now, a picture of the courtyard of the Maison des têtes in Valence. Don’t worry, it’s not some macabre display of decapitation exhibits, but a fascinating 15th-Century house/museum, that features several carved busts on the front and in the corridor. It makes a change from mountains and hairpin bends.