Cycling around this area is pure joy, but of course priority number one is to stay safe. Road cyclists will be used to general safety points when on the road, so here I will just list a few random observations about road safety in this particular part of France.
Here are my first few, which I’ll add to as I think of things specific to here:
- On main roads (such as the D93 Drôme valley road), don’t ride two-abreast, unless you have a wide cycle lane. French drivers tend to view the speed limit as a target, and most will be expecting to overtake cyclists without slowing down appreciably. There is room for this, as long as you aren’t two-abreast. I wouldn’t recommend nervous or wobbly cyclists take the main roads such as the D93, the Grenoble-Aspres road, or the Crest-Chabeuil road. Most of the others are fine.
- Take the lane at the small roundabouts in villages, after a good shoulder-check, to dissuade impatient drivers trying to squeeze past.
- ALWAYS be ready for gravel on descents – generally gravel has good warnings, but some of the smaller roads need extra caution.
- Always look ahead on faster roads – very occasionally drivers will be looking to overtake towards you, so make sure they have seen you. French drivers in this area are inveterate tailgaters, so don’t always have the best view before pulling out for an overtake.
- Don’t use carbon rims on Alpine descents. They will almost certainly overheat, and pop your tyres off the rims.
- Beware of heat in the summer – it can get up to 40C in the shade, so set off early if you aren’t good with heat, don’t be too ambitious in your route planning, and make good use of all the water fountains dotted around.
- Read forcasts thoroughly. Things can quickly go wrong in the mountains, and if you’ve set out without proper clothes and then get caught in the wind and rain, at best you’ll be miserable.
- Tunnels. I’ve done a detailed post here.
Having said all that, if you respect the roads for what they are, and never cycle faster than you feel comfortable, and leave yourself plenty fo room to slow down or stop in the distance you can see, the pleasures are immense!