A few days ago I put out a call on Cycling Languedoc’s Facebook Page, asking (Erik says ‘fishing’) if anyone in the area would like to join me on some hot, hard rides and keep me company for Peak Week. Within minutes Erik contacted me and within not much more time he and Anne were planning a weekend trip to a house Anne’s folks have in the Cévennes.
On Friday, at the the hottest time of the day, Erik and I left Nîmes train station and headed north in 40 degree heat. We made Alès, an old mining town and one of many ‘gateways’ to the mountains, in a couple of hours, then started into the hills (did I mention it was 40 degrees?). Here is Erik, questioning his sanity on top of the first climb out of the city.
It was a long, hot 121 km ride of sort of consistent climbing (2000 meters in the end), but happily all that effort paid off. Well, not yet. First we had to cross this little bridge at Altier and head up a couple hundred meters of more vertical gain.
A washed-out look at the road we came in on.
But we made it, and Anne, along with her mom and dad, were waiting for us with cold beer in the fridge and dinner nearly ready. The support team did well today.
The little hamlet their house inhabits has this building…
With this iron cross protecting it.
Turns out it is a communal oven – at one time seen in every village in France, I imagine, but really very rare today (then again, there was no ‘boulanger’ sign on it, so maybe I’ve been riding right by them for the past 5 years).
Back at the homestead, our bikes were lined up for action the next morning, and the Queen Stage of this portion of Peak Week.