Saturday, 14 June 2014


We high-tailed out of there and drove through Sault and on to Forcalquier in the Luberon.  Ian had heard about another climb from Forcalquier up the Montagne de Lure, also known as the mini-Ventoux.  We'd use this site as a base and wanted to check it out.  Just to be clear Mt de Lure is only 100 m lower than Ventoux, so it's not what I'd call a "mini"!
Anyway too hot to stop, but something to come back for.  We picked up the autoroute, having had enough of the twisty roads, and drove on to Barcelonnette, in the Alps, close to the border with Italy, to a site we've been at before, small and friendly.  We were here a few years ago, when Ian did the Route des Alpes.  The town isn't particularly interesting, but there's lots of good climbing to be had.  As we pitched up, we felt the benefit of the cooler alpine air. Forecast isn't too sparkling for the next few days, with thunderstorms and rain, but a welcome reduction in temperature.
With rain forecast for later in the day, we set off the following morning at 8.30, on route for the Col de la Bonette, debatably the highest pass in Europe, at 2800m.  We're not setting off at sea level, but it's still a fair old climb.  Reasonable gradient, especially the final few kilometres, which sweep around the side of the glacial mountain.  It was so lovely to breathe in the cool mountain air.  Not very busy, but then this whole area isn't.  Can't think why, but it's just not touristy.  2hrs 55 to top.  This time I did the last kilometre or so up to the Cime, the peak at the top, which it seems was artificially added, to ensure the fame of being the highest paved road!  Not sure you get any better view, but it felt good to have done it finally, as previous years snow has blocked our way.  Even now, I had to carry the bike over a barrage of snow to get to the narrow road beyond, covered with glacial debris!
The descent was fast, but chilly, and the only danger was watching out for old racing cars flying up the mountain, on the annual motor rally.  I waited for Ian, who had added on a climb up to Pra Loup, a nearby ski station, wanting to get a bit more climbing in his legs, ready for the cycle event ahead.  Got talking to a fellow camper, Lorenzo, a Madrileno living in Pau, in the French Pyrenees.  He'd cycled over from Italy and gave us several good tips on where to camp, and what the cycling was like.  He'd also spent some time in Tenerife, cycling, had lived for 17years in Galway, Ireland, as a musician of Irish pipes. Really interesting chap, with fantastic English.
5520' ascent over 40 miles.  Reason I mix feet with metres is that my new Garmin bike computer ( Christmas present) shows ascent in feet!
Thunder rolled around again, with a little rain.  Getting cooler.  23' today.

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