Last one for 2016

This year I’ll not be able to get here for the New Year, so all will be quiet until February.

So I was pleased to get in a nice little ride on my last day for this week and year: another standard – up the Quint valley, over the col de la Croix to Beaufort, and back via the Drôme valley. The rain having passed yesterday and in the night, I was treated to nice fresh light on familiar scenes.

And as I make my way back to Devon, totaling up my riding in France for the ten weeks I’ve been here in 2016, it comes to slightly over 4000 miles. That’ll do.

Roaming clouds

Today’s rain has been in the forecast all week, and given that October and November are the wettest months here, I’ve been very lucky this week. Even today’s rain has been much less than promised, and allowed me to get out for my regular Quint Valley loop. You’ll be pleased to know, I’m sure, that this morning I replaced the bar tape, chain and cassette on the bike, as well as servicing the bottom bracket. I’m glad to say that the bike’s still working.

Anyway, the photos give a nice flavour of today: clouds roaming the valleys. I’ve learnt never to venture too far when they are prowling.

Just another ride

After my walking and cycling of the previous day, something not too taxing: a ride down to La Charce, and back via the Roanne Valley. The weather was on the change too, and I didn’t fancy a drenching.

So just a fairly routine route, but as you’ll know, one doesn’t need to try hard to get nice views wherever one goes in these parts. But it gives me the challenge to get some shots that I haven’t done before. I have my Sony HX50 to thank for the photo of the buzzard: 60x zoom and amazing image stabilisation did the clever bit.

More autumnal colours

​One of the things that might strike visitors to the area is the amount of dense woodland that remains. Most British areas that were once woodland are now tree-free (or nearly so): for example, Dartmoor, the Lake District, or even the New Forest. It’s one of the things that makes autumn so special here – you don’t have to go far too be treated to an almost psychedelic display of colour, and a day like today, with blue skies and sunshine, is a gift to anyone with a camera.

There’s an obvious place to go to see the most vivid colours, and that’s Cirque d’Archiane. So this afternoon’s ride went there first, then further up the valley towards the col de Menée, but just to Bénevise this time, as the wind was picking up and my extremities were starting to get cold.

A morning walk

​A cool start today persuaded me to go for a walk till the air warmed up. Despite it being prime walking country round here, my love of cycling normally takes precedence (and is rather kinder to my getting-older knees).

There are two walks up from my house which I’ve done, which follow valley paths for a long time, and therefore get few views for some distance. So today I followed the signs to le Bichon. For some reason I’d not done this route till today -maybe I’d tried and got lost (there is one unsignposted right fork – see photo). You do ascend for an hour without much of a view- I was almost ready to turn back thinking that I’d not get a decent view, then ‘boof’! As you’ll see, the view was well worth the wait. And, for someone who’s not great with ‘airy’ paths, there were no ‘exposed moments’ to contend with. Next time I’ll allow more time and see how much further the path goes.

Changing light

You’ll see from today’s photos why I never tire of this place. I had no idea what the day was going to turn out like, and even when I began my afternoon ride west to Blacons I still had no idea. Well, it was worth the effort.

Vercors in November

​Unless you’re into suffering for your art (or pleasure), the Vercors plateau is somewhere to visit in nice weather – and when it is nice, it’s stunning.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing the whole area in its autumnal colours, but the cloudless skies today drew me upwards. I wasn’t disappointed. A 65-mile loop took me over col de Rousset, down to les Grands Goulets, and back to col de Rousset via la Chapelle and Vassieux. If I had to leave for England now, it would have been worth the journey. Fortunately I have five more days here.