As mentioned in my post about my 2012 ride from Exeter to Die, my very first trip to the Diois region was in actually in May 2012, when I was given the chance to stay in a pupil’s parents’ house near Die. Knowing nothing about the area, I started a forum thread in Bike Radar: it’s amusing reading that now, as I’ve gone from complete ignorance to, er, knowing the area probably just as well as anyone, in cycling terms. In five years I think I’ve racked up over half a year in total time there, and, at a guess, about 14,000 miles!
And thinking about that, I realised that I’ve never done a post about that first visit, and how precious it was. Looking at the photos now, it’s funny to think that all those views were for the first time, and I had no idea about all the amazing sights ‘just around the corner’. I remember just not being able to stop photographing, well, just about everything.
I had three cycling companions: Jon (Exeter Wheelers), George (Exeter University), and James (Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra), and in my little Clio, we drove the 850 miles from Exeter, with four bikes hanging off the back, and started discovering what I now know to be the most fabulous cycling area.
The weather that week (late May/early June) was a bit mixed. George and I got decidedly cold venturing to Combe Laval on Vercors (George doing his first 100-mile ride into the bargain), we got blown about on Mont Ventoux, and we were warm on Alpe d’Huez. And in between we started my personal discovery of the region. It was a truly fabulous week. Which is why I cycled back there a few weeks later… and six months later bought the house.
You’ll probably recognise a few of the locations in the photos below, selected from the dozens and dozens I took. They still bring a smile to my face, many, many vists and photographs later. There’s something special about that ‘first time’. And in amongst these photos, I can see my first ever Alpine col (Col de la Croix, in the Quint Valley), my first col de Rousset/Vercors (and we got wet and cold), and many others.
Incidentally, as much as I enjoyed the day-trips to Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez, I haven’t been back, despite their relative proximity: there’s more than enough to keep me amused for a few thousand miles here each year.