Further February frolics

A warmer start to the day today, and no risk of early ice on main roads, so I headed south for a standard La Charce – La Motte-Chalancon – Roanne valley route to make the most of the morning sun forecast. Though, as you know, nothing really classes as ‘standard’ around here.

Damp Die, dry Drôme

I guessed correctly on the weather today. Unlike yesterday, this morning’s weather did all it could to persaude me to stay in the house: dense drizzle, clouds lurking in all the valley’s nooks and crannies, and not warm.

A quick study of the rainfall radar suggested that heading west would at least keep me dry, so a simple Drôme route – out to Livron on the north bank, over the Drôme there, and a return on the south bank. It’s flatter than anything I can do in Devon, with about 350m of descent (with a few gentle undulations) in the outward 35 miles to Livron. You’ll not be surprised that there’s 350m to ascend for the return. And you’ll see from the photos that the weather was decidedly pleasant after les Trois Becs. Die, however, was still shrouded in gloom on my return.

Actually, you’ll notice I made a short detour on the return leg. I didn’t know they’d honoured me with a valley and a mountain named after me. It see.ed only polite to pay a visit, even though there was no official welcoming party. An ascent of my mountain, however, will have to wait for another day.

Les Sucettes de Borne

It’s been feet all the way today, and the second walk of the day was a special request to meet my friends’ (the Wessons) new dog Herbie for a walk in the snow.

Tie that in with some extraordinary geology, and here are a few snaps of les Sucettes de Borne (the valley that leads to Borne village joins the Gorges des Gâts), and some 2- and 4-legged friends.

Snow: morning walk

Sometimes I might have a grumble if my cycling is affected by the weather. But not this morning. Steady overnight snow left about 10cm at sunrise this morning (by which time the snow plough had already done all the local roads!), and it was time to go for the first walk of the day, just a short stroll from home. You’ll see why I’m not grumbling.

A cold col de Rousset

Oof, a reminder of how much cooler it is this February than last – my ascent was perfectly pleasant, the descent painfully cold. Still, it gave me an excuse to warm up with a hot coffee in Banette. And I’ve ticked off my first col de Rousset of 2018. I hope the rest will be warmer!

On foot: a trail of two cols

This morning was distinctly chilly, so with an unexpectedly serein ciel (not a cloud to be seen), I decided to give the roads time to thaw by going for a favourite local walk, towards Die via the cols of Romeyer and Bergu.

This is a pleasant circular 3-hour stroll for me from home, entirely safe and unscary, and with some excellent views. It’s also very will signposted, as long as you know the waypoints of the two cols, and the Gros Chêne (don’t miss the left turn at Cornet, if doing the route clockwise). You’ll also notice that you carry on climbing from col de Romeyer to col de Bergu: a reminder for cyclists that a col is the lowest point between peaks – it just so happens that it is often the highest point on the road.

In the photos you’ll notice the evidence of the forest fire of a couple of years ago, and the Gros Chêne.

Drômois drama

It was anything but dull today. I woke up to a dense snow flurry, and next it was sunshine. And so it continued for the rest of the day.

I saved my ride (a there-and-back eoute to Saoû forest and the Col de Lauzun) for after my early lunch, as the precipitations were forecast to reduce, which indeed they did. However, I’m also glad they didn’t disappear completely, as not only did it provide some rather splendid scenes, but it gave me an excuse for bisyllabic alliteration. Definitely a good day.

Die does dull

I hope you’ll forgive my monosyllabic alliteration, but today’s weather wasn’t wholly inspiring… well, other than to eat hot soup and put more logs in the woodburner.

I had planned a shortish route to Saoû, but a cold shower turned me around at Saillans, so I made a detour over the col de Marignac for the return leg. The warmth of my house beckons.

First February foray of 2018

I’m back for my first visit since the end of August: that’s the longest I’ve been away since I’ve had the house, and so the contrast is heightened in both colours and temperatures.

The journey here was easy despite snow in Paris: though both the flight and TGV were slightly delayed as a result, the TGV now stops at Valence TGV station, giving ample buffer to catch the Die train. (Previously there was a change at Lyon Part Dieu, which is always an ‘experience’.) Late night firelighting and eating finished my day.

So today is my first proper day here in 2018. There’s no snow in the valley at all now, though it’s certainly cold enough, so plenty of layers were necessary for the trip to Die Market this morning, and a 30-mile loop via Ausson, Recoubeau, Luzerand and Laval d’Aix this afternoon. As you’ll see, it’s all just as pretty as when I left it. You’ll have to take my word for it that it’s much much colder.

 

Time to leave

Well, that’s the last ride here for 2017 done – a quick morning spin over col de Pennes, up via the hard Pennes le Sec route (and yes, it’s hard, even before it’s been properly warmed by the sun), and descending via Barnave, with all its hairpins.

Summer total is 2004 miles for the five weeks – and hardly a route repeated. Highlights have been the handful of new cols for me (including de Mens and des Deux), and three longer rides I’d planned and ridden (each being most satisfying too). And also introducing trumpeter & cyclist Lewis to the wonders of the area, while helping him discover that there’s nothing scary about riding up very long hills.

I’ve got routine stuff to do now to make the house winter-proof (I hope), and then I’m back to Devon via Valence and Paris using various forms of transport.

I’ll be back here in February. In the meantime I have a few nice photos to remind me how I spent my summer.

A bientôt!