Bertand structured the 10 day riding tour around our group of Telluriders – Oz, Joel, Rick, Ricky (Richard) and I, the exception being Todd, a tattoo artist from Flagstaff, Arizona and childhood friend of Ricky’s. A mountain biker, Todd fit right in and throughout the tour he continued to display the beautiful art of descending mountain roads with the uncanny ease and flawless execution of hairpin turns leaning his steed to angles that defied my own ability.
We rode through some of the most beautiful country, through vineyards, lavender fields and olive groves. We climbed and descended narrow, well paved roads snaking through lush forests, high alpine passes and beautiful valleys.
All of our rides were peppered by water stops in charming little towns built long ago. Each one had a church and a fresh spring water fountain.
These little oasis perched on hill tops were our intermediate stops, regroups and the usual humorous banter. We all rode taking in the beauty, the smells, the views.
Bertrand did an amazing job planning the routes, lifting the hem of France’s regal dress and giving us a glimpse into the irresistible beauty and elegance of this sophisticated, handsome dame. We stayed in charming establishments, enjoyed elegant dinners, local wines and cheeses, great conversation and hearty croissant sponsored breakfasts.
We fell into a routine of waking up, having breakfast, riding to lunch then riding to the next town for dinner and a good night’s rest. Manu, our director, drove the support van and took care of everything other than pedaling the bikes, making all the logistics quite painless. In a funny way, the daily routine and the combination of group riding through renowned classic mountain stages gave us a small glimpse into the life of a tour rider.
The monumental climbs allowed us to play toy soldiers on battlefields that forged the true cycling legends and heroes of the sport. Those whose drive and virtue lay in the passion of suffering, in conquering the giants, in giving their everything including their lives (Tom Simpson), albeit laced by alcohol and amphetamines.
Additionally we rode Alpe d’Huez, Col du Porte, Col du Grand Ballon, Col du Columbier (see next blog entry) and many others. Aside from these climbs, we experienced picturesque fairy tale towns rich in history, castles, fortress and the cobbled streets of Oppidum at Pont Romain, built in the first century A.D. We enjoyed great weather the entire time but on the last day, the sky opened up as though weeping in farewell.
Each day, each place, each ride would be a story of its own, unworthy of my poor attempt at defining something best left to personal experience.
For a photo collage of a more cohesive gallery check out the following: