A Rude Awakening

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.

But even though I was pissed that they had made me climb one too many climbs, I couldn’t help thinking how incredibly fun it would be to fly through these mountains on machines like this!

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!

6 thoughts on “A Rude Awakening

  1. Agony thy name is Cold Turkey From Carrot Cake! Lovely pics, and the ‘morning light’ shot reminds me of roads in our own area. Aren’t we lucky to ride routes like that? Thanks for the post.

  2. Gerry – You’re reminded every time you hop on your bike what a great area of the world you live. So fortunate. I’ve been spoiled for life after spending the last couple weeks riding in Alps and Provence. I just wrote a blog about my take on my trip and the “French Paradox”. I praise the French culture and the wonderful lifestyle that contributes to healthier outcomes when compared to us North Americans. Check it out at: http://www.nofinishlineblog.com/2011/08/is-the-french-paradox-really-a-paradox.html

    • Thanks, Rob. I’m going to read that as I ‘work’ this morning. Strange thing, though; I didn’t get my usual email in the inbox telling me that you’d written a new blog article.

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