A few months ago, out of the blue, Cycling Languedoc woke up to the following message in its inbox:
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK. I have been commissioned by Cyclist magazine to write a feature about cycling a route in the Cevennes, based on the fictional “Tour de Mont Aigoual” described in the novel, “The Rider”, by Tim Krabbe.
If you know a thing or two about me, you know that I love The Rider (reviewed it here) and CL just happens to have a tour that runs right through the fictional race (but all-too-real) route recounted in the book. We jumped at the opportunity and a few months later we met this guy.
His name is Trevor Ward and he writes for various publications, but the ones we were interested in were Cyclist, Cycling Weekly and The Independent newspaper (fingers crossed for something in all 3 of these). Trevor lives in Scotland but is originally from Liverpool. I immediately made a great first impression by informing him that he sounded ‘just like the Beatles’. At least it was all uphill after that.
We spent a couple of days in the Cévennes, riding the exact route outlined in The Rider, as well as exploring the area a little on the side. Here are a couple of photos from the first part of our ride, highlighting the fickle nature of the weather in any mountain area. Being from the UK, Trevor felt right at home.
The route from The Rider, by the way, can be easily found on the internet, but it is much more fun to piece it together while reading the story, as all three of us did independently, it seems. The first half of the ‘figure 8’ is a clockwise loop that starts in the mountain town of Meyrueis, flies down the Gorges de la Jonte, zooms up the Gorges du Tarn, abruptly slows at the switchbacky 500 meter climb up to the Causse Mejean (1st photo above), then, if the wind is with you, motors across a high plateau before descending back to Meyrueis. We got dumped on, as you can see, with the English guy smartly whipping out his rain jacket at the first sniff of rain, and both John and I, of course, forgetting ours.
Once the route is safely back in Meyrueis it spends little time mucking around and promptly proceeds to climb, this time through fir and pine forests towards the south.
Once at the top, we were again on an undulating ‘causse’ (limestone plateaux in this area of France), but soon after we were sent hurtling down another gorge on a spectacular descent that I unfortunately only stopped once to record.
It’s a really gentle 27 km, by the way, but I guess it’d be pretty hard in a race, fictional or not. From the top of Mont Aiguoal (1567 m) it was more or less all downhill to finish the bottom part of our second ‘8’ (counterclockwise this time) in now-familiar Meyrueis.
Thanks, Trevor, for coming all the way down to Le Sud to ride with us (bike generously provided by VeloRoo, by the way). If there are any other cycling journalists out there reading this, don’t be shy…but maybe wait a few weeks till we save up enough for another trip!