Tuesday, 9 June 2015

France

France 2015 After overnighting at the car park aire in Calais, and the following night at the Camping des Cents Vignes (beautiful) in Beaune, we arrived at our destination for four nights in the Vercors region, near Grenoble. A small village called Meaudre, near Autrans. One of four sportives we've booked in, part of the Grand Trophee series. A good way of seeing a new part of France. Well signed and organised. This one even had a sportive specifically for women, Vercors pour Elles, on the Saturday and the longer men's the following day. Arriving a few days earlier gave us chance to reccy some of the route and practise a couple of the climbs, the Col de Herbouilly and the Col de Croix Perrin. Not too steep but long. Although chilly in the morning, the temperature rises steadily, and it's such a joy to ride and not be cold. Vercors pour Elles was a stunning course, with fast cycling in the valley floors to neighbouring villages, climbs up to Croix Perrin and then Herbouilly, long, fast descent to St Agnan, looking up at the impressive rocky escarpment, that the Vercors is famous for. On through farms and meadows, eventually climbing to St Julien and a beautiful, high altitude road with stunning views. Rapid descent to climb again through the narrow Gorges de la Bourne, with high rocky overhangs. They're currently resurfacing this popular tourist road, so it was a very unwelcome experience to be cycling over having covered 50miles! Back at Meaudres after 57miles. Really enjoyed it, managed 13.7mph, over 5000' ascent, and just less than 3mins off gold standard at 4hrs 24'! If only I hadn't stopped for some fruit pastilles at feed station 2! They provided a hot meal at finish, with the celebrated Bleu de Vercors cheese, soft, creamy and not at all salty. Ian set off earlier the following day, as his course was longer. It was only 5deg but sunny, as he set off in the morning. Began on same route as me but took in much more climbing over Col de Rousset and Col de la Machine, to name but two. Covered over 100 miles. Whilst he did this, I cycled over to St Julien and on to Pont en Royans and then back up the Gorges de la Bourne, a beautiful route of high level alpine fields, little villages, picturesque Pnt en Royans and then back through the stunning gorges, following and being overtaken by the front markers of the long challenge route. Ian came in in excellent time inside the gold standard, but complaining of back ache. Evenings spent watching the French regulars on the campsite playing p├ętanque. Great to watch and so skilful. There's a few of them who drive over regularly from Grenoble and has static cabins on the site. Very attractive. Off to Provence tomorrow and a day off, driving! Really liked this area. Very quiet. Would definitely come back here again.

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