Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Gorges de Nesque and Mt Ventoux again!

Climbing the Gorge de Nesque
Forecast for further north, Grenoble and Switzerland, was rain and unsettled for the next few days. Here heavy downpours today and then sunny thereafter. Glad we decided to come this far south. After lolling about all day, as the rain poured down, the evening was dry and allowed us to Skype the family in LA, just recently increased by two, with Laura and Emma just having arrived. Laura had changed her first nappy when we caught up with them, but not managed to pin Lily down long enough to put another on, so caught glimpses of her chubby bottom as she wriggles in Laura's arms, and stood up for her dad. It's just great to feel so close to them, but I keep wanting to squeeze her through the computer screen! Among other presents, like a Burnley kit, Laura had bought her a special, little Miffy (Laura's favourite when she was little and big), but Lily does n't know what to make of it yet. She crawls right up to the screen and presses her nose on it!

The following day was as promised-lovely and sunny, but cool. We cycled off to the Gorge de la Nesque. The Nesque being the river, and the gorge cuts through for about 10 miles or so. This has to be one of the best cycles we've ever done. The high level road enters the gorge and contours around climbing at a gentle gradient, with great road surface, extremely quiet at this time of year, with stunning views deep down into the gorge, and the road ahead weaving around every pine-clad, hilly bend. Absolutely breath-taking! On leaving the gorge, we aimed for the hill-top village of Sault, famous for its hundreds of acres of lavender fields. Unfortunately at this time of year, they'd all been harvested, so no beautiful, purple fields, but the fragrance of lavender in the air. Ham sandwich and juice in Sault, where we could have had lavender cordial, lavender honey and lavender tea, and then we were on the return leg. Unless we returned the way we came, the most logical, if not sensible way back was over le Mont Ventoux, for the second time in three days. But Ian told me that the way up Sault was known for being the easiest of the three celebrated ascents, from Bedouin, Malaucene, and Sault. The climb up from Sault is quite easy, with gradients of 3% and 4%, and you emerge at the Chalet Reynard, with 4 miles left to the top of Ventoux, which you don't have to do, if you don't want. But I'd have been mad to miss it, on this sunny, clear day, with views for miles around. After a brief stop on the way down at the memorial to Tom Simpson, which I'd passed the last time, it was quick hot coffee at the Chalet, to warm up, before the speedy, and easy descent into Bedouin and home. Ian had been back a while, not having stopped for photos and savouring the moment! Just less than 60miles and 6000ft ascent, but more importantly one of the best day's cycling I think I've ever had!

I took the following morning as a rest day, in preparation for Alpert d'Huez, and Ian went off on his own to explore another interesting geological site, les Dentelles of Montmirail, limestone pinnacles not far from Malaucene, about 10miles from here. Then we're away and working our way back, via Bourg d'Oisan, one of our favourite stop-overs, and MOT areas! We'll definitely be back in this area again, as long as we avoid the fiercely hot months of July and August. It's still warm enough to cycle in short sleeves in September, which is a real bonus, after the cool August we've just had!

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