As you know I’m in my off season, and therefore have been sitting on my crumpet and slacking off just as much or more as I had been spinning my pedals and sweating blood when I was training earlier this year.
So I knew today was going to hurt.
John and I decided to take a ride into the Cévennes mountains to get a bit of exercise, but to also escape the oppressive heat we’ve been having lately. He picked me up at 7am and we got on our bikes an hour and a half later in the village of St. Jean du Gard.
This tourist office, apart from being quiet handsome, reminded me that St. Jean du Gard is the village where Robert Louis Stevenson (with his donkey Modestine) finished his grand trek through the Cévennes in 1878. It is, predictably, a popular town to start hikes into the mountains today.
This is John, way up the road. Love that morning light.
Almost immediately upon leaving SJdG we hit our first climb of the day – 7 kilometers long at around 5 or 6% I think. All the bologna and carrot cake I’d eaten in Canada was weighing me down and I had to watch resignedly as John caught the wheel of another cyclist and finished the climb ahead of me.
Our original idea was to ride along something called the Corniche des Cévennes, a road that follows a long ridge, with great views over the range. Unfortunately for us, there was a car race on our road this Sunday and we needed to make a detour after a few km along the top. Here’s John again, this time in the village of St. Roman de Tosque, I think.
Our detour took us down a narrow, twisting and very steep road that had me locking up my brakes on one nervous hairpin, but we got to the bottom in one piece (or two pieces I suppose..) and rode up the valley till, inevitably, we needed to get back over what we had just flew down. Our 2nd climb was shorter -5 km, but steeper – around 7%. At the top we met our enemy.
Another fast descent, then a gentle river ride all the way back to St. Jean du Gard. This pretty village (St. André de Valborgne) demanded a stop, though. If you’re in the area on Sept. 11 they’re having a sweet onion and pelardon (very tasty goat cheese) festival.
I realize now that I got a little carried away with my aprés-objective indulgences. I’ve completely cut out bologna (because I can’t get it here) and my sister isn’t here to make me carrot cake…I think I’m back on track!