Posts Tagged With: cycle touring

Day 23 – Chorges to Le Lauzet-Ubaye, 38km – 781km total

After a day of rest (which turned out, again, to be rather pointless) we departed the strange French club resort in Chorges for the Ubaye valley. Today we had to climb 2 passes, first – Col Lebraut, 1120m second, unnamed pass near St. Laurent. The first climb began straight out of the hotel’s door, from 840 to 1120 meters. It took us about 45 minutes to get up the pass. It’s quite hot now in the alps, get’s up to 31C in the day time. We wanted to start early, but ended up leaving at 10am.

A fast descent brought us to the shores of the Serre-Poncon lake. One of the largest man-made lakes in Europe was created by installing a dam into the mouth of the Dorance and Ubaye rivers to protect Gap valley for devastating floods. The lake fits perfectly into the mountainous terrain of the area. However, since the valley is flooded, the roads around the lake are quite hilly (not following the valley floor, but jumping over the ridges that go down to what used to be the valley). We descended through a short tunnel past the dam to around 600 meters and started out second climb of the day.

The South side of Serre-Concon lake belongs to department of Alpes du Haute-Provance, we are getting closer to the coast! The second climb was long, not too steep, but in the heat it really wore me out. Even above 1000 meters it was still very very hot. Dianna’s Chariot was heating up as well and that started bothering her. At one point I forgot to take it off the parking brake and cycled around 1km up a 6% hill with that on. About 2 hours later we were at the top of the climb, at 1120 meters enjoying a marvelous view of the Serre-Poncon lake and the Ubaye valley.

I was totally worn out. 850 meters of climbing is probably the limit for me with Dianna tied to my bike and the luggage on the racks. At one point I thought maybe I should start walking up 😉 A quick descent brought us to Le Lauzet and the lake. The hotel we are staying at is right on the lake. We went for a swim right away! The water is about 20C, very fresh after the ride we had today. Dianna went into the water as well 😉

Tomorrow we will head for Barcelonette, a large town at the end of the Ubaye valley. From there we will start ascent of the Col de Coyolle.

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Day 8 – Senonches to Chartres, 37km – 315km total

Very easy and short route to Charters took us through endless wheat pastures of central France. In Senonches we realized that somewhere along the way we crossed the border between Normandy and Centre, the two French regions. It seems that Centre is a bit more developed. However this is only a cyclist’s point of view. I know nothing about French regional divisions.

Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798 with a goal to take control of the Nile valley, which back then could provide enough wheat for the French empire. After miles and miles of wheat pastures of region Centre I start to wonder whether historians were right about this.

It took us a bit over 2.5 hours to get to Charters. Dianna woke up at 10am! (instead of her usual 6) and was awake looking out her window and playing/singing with herself for most of the way. The route was a bit downhill all the way with a SW wind pushing at our backs. The outskirts of Chartres are quite ugly. The centre is nice, dominated by an enormous Chartres cathedral. As the terrain around Chartres is almost flat, the cathedral is visible from at least 10 km away from the town itself.

In town we paid a visit to the cathedral. It does leave an impression. Tomorrow we will cycle all the way to Orleans. Orleans lies in the Loir river valley. From Orleans we will cycle along the Loir river, following the EuroVelo 6 for the next 200 km until we reach Nevers. It is 75km from Chartres to Orleans and with thundery showers in forecast for late afternoon we are bracing ourselves for a tough day.

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Day 5 – Caen to Vimoutiers, 62km – 190km Total

Very hard day with terrible weather and tough hills. We started quite like, despite knowing that afternoon is going to bring scattered rain showers into the area. This was to be our longest day so far, around 62km. We were to stay at the Fermes du Florence, a small B&B 9km short of Vimoutiers, a large town in the Orne department of Normandy. The first 35-45km of cycling was uneventful. Road leaving Caen is a very busy D road, turning into a highway at times. Around 5km after Caen we turned onto a much quieter country road and followed the same for the next 35km (D40).


After a brief stop 3km short of St. Pierre sur Dives where Dianna had her lunch, we continued to St. Pierre to have lunch ourselves. This part of Normandy seemed a bit dull. The people around are rough and don’t smile. Towns and villages don’t look very rich. Many were destroyed during WWII and rebuilt to a much lower standard. The town centre of St. Pierre sur Dives turned into Saturday market for bikers. There were two brasseries in town and both around the biker market. It seemed that everyone around smoked. It started raining very hard when we sat down for lunch. The rain passed and we continued towards Vimoutiers. The next 20km should have been quite hilly. Instead of continuing towards Trun and then NE to Vimoutiers we took small side roads to cut some distance.

The rain finally caught up with us on one of the small roads where we also got the news that we will not be able to stay at the Fermes Florance (no baby bed and 48 hour prior notice to server us dinner). We had to cycle 9km past this B&B to Vimoutiers, where luckily I’ve found a vacancy at the Hotel La Coronne.

Thereafter it rained on and off, sometimes quite hard until we got to Vimoutiers. It also became quite hilly, with the next 10km giving us almost 500 meters of climbing.

Last 9km to Vimoutiers were downhill. Hotel La Coronne is a story worthy of a separate post 😉 With most of its staff drunk and rude, smoking bans not really having an effect on neither the staff nor the guests and rooms looking as this was a roadside trucker lodge somewhere in Laos. It took some time for Dianna to finally go to bed.

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