Two years ago I posted about a cycling holiday in Provence, and I’ve just been back for four days. This time Susan and I went together, and she did a series of long hikes while I did some long rides with an old friend from the Geography department at Durham, John Thompson. This time Susan and I stayed at La Sarrasine in Villes-sur-Auzon, just down the hill from where John and his family were staying.
Three full and two half days, and five rides. First, a short evening ride up the Gorges de la Nesque; then the next morning a 50 mile ride up the Col de Murs, the Col de la Ligne, and down the Gorges de la Nesque. The third day was the big one – Mont Ventoux. We took the longer route up the Gorges towards Sault and then up to the summit via Chalet Reynard. Quite a bit quicker than two years ago, and then down the direct route to Bédoin. Another 50 mile ride, but much more climbing. Later that afternoon I hiked the last 6km to the summit with Susan. The last long ride, again around 50 miles, was two-thirds of a longer route looping around Ventoux, with the biggest climb up to Col de Fontaube. There is a great little place at the top which serves fresh apricot juice and lavender lemonade, which were most welcome. This was a hot day, and my iPhone, which I use for GPS and Strava, overheated. On the last morning I took a solo ride up the Gorges de la Nesque – trying to get as fast a time as I could, because I knew at the end I just needed to turn round and come down hill.
It was almost 200 miles riding in total, on a very good hire bike from Bédoin location. I’m especially pleased with my times, as two years ago I lived in County Durham, and had Cumbria and Northumberland on the doorstep. Now there is much less challenging cycling near Coventry or London. I’ve had to make do with Richmond Park, the Surrey Hills, and a couple of weekend trips to the Malverns and the Cotswolds. I also had six weeks off the bike when I was in New York, which I felt undid all the good of the time in Australia earlier this year.
We took the Eurostar direct from London to Avignon, which seemed better than flying to Marseille. The only bad thing about this is that on the return you have to all get off, with luggage, at Lille for passport control and customs. You’d think that an entire train getting off might encourage them to have a few more than two lanes open. But apart from that, this was a great short break with some wonderful riding and lots of good food, wine and conversation for the rest of the time. Thanks to John for ferrying us to and from Avignon station, and his family for letting us share part of their holiday.