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Sociable leisure rides for enthusiastic cyclists

Ride Reports

23SundaySEPTEMBER

Welcome Ride

47 km  x2
Ride Category
As predicted, this was a very wet ride with a powerful headwind on the outward leg. Chapeau to Jenny for riding to the start, and even for being there. In truth, once we were underway it wasn't too bad. Traffic was light and water hadn't encroached too far into the roads. We managed to miss the majority of the submerged potholes. Time passed quickly as we exchanged recipes for carrot cake. At Buckland, we decided to route through Aston to Bampton and had a leisurely breakfast break at the Garden Centre, joined by Terry who, under doctor's orders, was shadowing the ride in his van. The rain had relented a little when we emerged but by then we were cold so elected for the direct return, warmed by the ascent of the Corallian escarpment at Buckland. Home in under two hours: a respected rate of progress, given the conditions. Thanks to Jenny for sweeping;)
16SundaySEPTEMBER

Away Ride

103 km  x2  x2
Ride Category
With all the other things going on today, this was a select ride for two (with Terry acting as our support vehicle popping up at assorted locations along the way). Lyn set a good pace out of Lambourn and up to the ridgeway and we enjoyed the downhill and flat with wind behind going into Shrivenham. We wound our way through Stanton Fitzwarren and onto Hannington, then down through Down Ampney. At Cerney Wick hopes were raised of an early visit to the coffee shop by Cotwold Outdoors, but there was a planned loop which took us away down to Ashton Keynes and back up to South Cerney before turning back down to the stop for coffee. We were joined by Terry and had a late breakfast / early lunch before heading off again. This time whenever we pointed south the wind was in our faces. We sped back via Kempsford, Highworth and Uffington. Lyn continued with me up Blowing Stone hill (beating me easily to the top), even though that would mean that he would then have to turn around and go back up to the Ridgeway to get home. He peeled off just before Lambourn. Thank you for great company Lyn - I enjoyed the ride.
14FridaySEPTEMBER

Uzes Holiday - Tavel

73 km  x3
Ride Category
A split ride today - those who had not done enough distance or climbing extended to Mt Bouquet after a delayed lunch - check out their report...

Two guest riders today, Colin came back for some more, and we welcomed old friend Doug Stoddart, another expatriate and entrepreneur at Bike Rental Manager for the morning.

The day starts with an undulating trip onto and across the garrigue where, for the first time, we were treated to a northerly wind - the infamous Mistral. Coffee in Tavel was nice and leisurely, followed by a slog into the wind up to Saint Laurent des Arbres where we managed to get some baguettes a emporter for lunch. At this point the ride (Chairman + others - naughty people) decided to ride off and leave the ride leader and a couple of others, completely missing the planned lunch stop. Anyhow, we eventually regrouped, found an alternative bit of shade and then split the ride where the trio heading to Mont Bouquet (the Three Bucketeers) could crack on.

The rest of the ride carried on at a lovely leisurely pace and stopped at Colin's house on the way past for some well-earned refreshments, before returning to Uzes.

A lovely holiday in the sunshine (we did get a few drops of rain on one day, but it was less than 10 drops, and lasted for all of 20 seconds) with plenty of undulating and downright hilly terrain to test the legs, lungs and resolve. Thanks to everyone for their company, friendship and laughs! And I didn't even mention tunnels or armwarmers (well, I did once, but I think I might have got away with it!)

14FridaySEPTEMBER

Uzes Holiday - Mont Bouquet

117 km  x3  x7
Ride Category
This was an optional extension to the Tavel ride (see other report for more details). We rode as one group to Tavel for coffee stop and to Saint Laurant des Arbres to pick up lunch baguettes.

A slight misunderstanding (i.e. a Chairman cock-up) meant we missed the proposed picnic site at the bottom of the gorge after St Victor la Coste and we ended up rather strung out along the road. We re-grouped to eat lunch at a less attractive site at Pouzilhac. Sorry :$

After munching the option to extend the ride to Mont Bouquet was taken up by Nick S, Andy and myself and we split the ride at this point. The others went off to Colin's house for drinks and nibbles in his garden.

We knew the extended route would take about 3 hours so we used the straight road and lovely fast descent towards St Quentin la Poterie where we filled our water bottles at the supermarche.

It was very hot up the climb to Belvezet and the route is very lumpy after that to the base of the Bouquet climb at Seynes.

The climb is 5km long and VERY VERY steep in places, two ramps of around 20% right at the bottom make you re-consider if it is even possible with the clifftop look out looming high above you.

It climbs in ramps like this all the way up with sections slightly easier or even downhill in places. Eventually we all got to the top to admire the stunning views and careful not to accidentally cycle off the paraglider launch pad!

The descent is technical and made harder with re-gritted bends and by the time we got to the bottom we were all out of water, Andy in his best French (!) begged some off of the guy in the builder's merchant at the bottom.

The ride back to Uzes is mostly downhill and we got a good pace going, especially along the long straight road into town and we celebrated a job well done with a post ride beer (beer)

A tough and hot ride that just about finished off the legs for the week :)

13ThursdaySEPTEMBER

Uzes Holiday - Moussac

55 km  x6  x2
Ride Category
A nice recovery ride today after the Ventoux exertions yesterday. Nick S didn't need much recovering, so did an early pre-ride to Sauve, meeting us for lunch.

Much more like a club blue ride this one, albeit in scorching temperatures, which were ever-present throughout the holiday. After a bit of a detour to the start because of road works on the one-way ring road (yes - it did cause chaos in the morning traffic!) we had a pleasant ride out to St Maurice de Cazevielle where coffee was taken at a leisurely pace. We then managed to tear ourselves away to ride the 3.4 miles to find Nick and have some lunch.

After lunch we took the delightful minor road to Russan, where we marvelled at the flood height of the Gardon in September 2002 - it's almost impossible to visualise the volume of water and its subsequent devastation of the valley - search online for some stunning images.

Towards the end of the ride, we were rewarded with great views of Mt Bouquet (inspiration for tomorrow?) and a very welcome customary refreshment stop - this time of the ice-cream variety, rather than beer. Relatively gentle riding, but delightful!



12WednesdaySEPTEMBER

Uzes Holiday - Ventoux

86 km  x4  x4
Ride Category
An early start for the drive over to Flassan to do today's rides. Phil and Nick were recovered enough to ride, and chose an out-and-back ride instead of the main event today... which is Mt Ventoux. Legendary for the various Tour escapades, including the death of Tom Simpson, Armstrong "gifting" Pantani with a stage, and more recently, Chris Froome running up when his bike was destroyed after a moto pile-up.

Setting out together, the two rides split very quickly and the Ventoux group dropped down to Bedoin, the classic start point, took the obligatory photos at the start, and then set off. We were treated to the hilarious sight of Nick S trying to keep up with a rather bulbous guy on an e-bike, but it wasn't long before the group was further split, to let everyone climb at their own pace.

Ventoux from Bedoin is a ride of two halves once it gets going, and the first bit is a tough climb, often over 11%, up through the sinuous road in the forest. It actually wasn't too bad today, as it wasn't too humid, but it's still tough enough for me to stop a couple of times to stretch my calf and back muscles. Many seriously fit riders fly past, and delightfully this time, I even manage to grind past a few riders myself.

Out of the forest! The second part begins - the familiar barren moonscape starts after Chalet Reynard - the gradient eases a little up through the limestone rock garden and the road zig-zags towards the summit, tantalisingly distant. Trying to look in control for the photographers who capture your pain and then stick a business card in your back pocket so you can buy their wares. The last two km are butual, it steepens and you see the Simpson memorial where he fell. Then the final hairpin and pitch - 400 watts screaming out from my legs for the last interminable 100m. And then the pain stops. Familiar Corallian shirts enjoying the sunshine coalesce for the mandatory photo.

After a lightning-quick descent, we lunched on burgers and omelettes at Chalet Reynard, replenishing energy for the onward descent to Sault, where we met up with Phil and Nick.

The next stretch of the circuit was up to the top of and descending down the Gorges de la Nesque - an absolutely stunning limestone gorge that is neither too steep, too precipitous, nor too sinuous to preclude a really decent descent. Like the climbing earlier, we descended at our own speeds to Villes sur Auzon, where afternoon refreshments were taken, prior to the climb back up to Flassan.

This was a magical day out - grins, sweat, a bit of swearing, but no tears!


12WednesdaySEPTEMBER

Uzes Holiday - la Nesque

69 km  x2
Ride Category
A Corallian's natural habitat is the limestone gorge, and this one was so good that Phil and I decided to do it twice. Really we were shirking Ventoux duty. After waving goodbye to the summit party at Flassan, we made a rapid descent to Villes-sur-Auzon for a leisurely coffee in the sun. The ascent of the Gorges de la Nesque is a dream: about a 3% gradient on a beautifully surfaced road which winds ever higher over the impressive gorge, with wonderful views and three short tunnels. We even had a tail wind. This was a real holiday ride. We then dropped down to Sault for an even more leisurely lunch. Phil even managed a post-prandial nap in the sunshine. Adrenaline was high in the summit party when we re-met them for a rather more energetic return journey. We stopped at the belvedere for obligatory photos, then a descent which will live long in the memory - despite most of it being into a head wind - before the final slog back to Flassan and the cars.

11TuesdaySEPTEMBER

Uzes Holiday - Nimes

90 km  x4  x2
Ride Category
With Phil still off sick with a doctor's note and Nick D knackered from yesterday, we picked up another local expatriate rider, Cliff Harrison, to show him some new roads (giggle).

A nice flat start out to the south west gave way to a long climb up followed by a lovely hairpinned descent into Clarensac for a pre-lunch coffee, much to Cliff's surprise and delight. We take this holidaying lark rather seriously! Next stop, the city of Nimes, to where the water from Sunday's ride was travelling. We did see Nick D and Phil in the car, but they were unable to park, so didn't stop at Nimes.

Some very interesting urban / city riding spewed us into the relatively traffic-free area where the best preserved Roman arena (where they started the prologue of the 2017 Vuelta) sits, so we found a lovely cafe in the shade and watched the world go by over a leisurely lunch. A few riders took the opportunity to view the arena from the roof garden of the museum - spectacular.

The return journey took us through the less touristy bit of Nimes, past the railways yards and the aerodrome, and up to Cabrieres, which we'd passed through on Sunday going the other direction. From here the descent down to Collias was utterly superb. The heat proved to be overpowering enough for an ice-cream stop... before the last few kms back to Uzes for a further refreshment stop to end the ride. Bon


10MondaySEPTEMBER

Uzes Holiday - Montclus

116 km  x5  x7
Ride Category
This is a tough ride by anyone's standards!

Phil's swollen eye flared up overnight, so he sat the ride out and opted for medical attention today. His place was taken by a local expatriate, Colin Maxwell, who I've ridden with a number of times out in the Uzes area.

The first climb up to the garrigue is a decent lump to get over, and then we followed a number of back lanes and visiting the hill-top town of Lussan to take in the vistas, before taking the side-excursion to Les Concluses - a deep and dry limestone gorge - for a bit of sightseeing. Sadly the normally-excellent winding descent down to Verfeuil was replaced by loose chippings, so we gingerly picked our way down there to Goudargues to find limited supplies in the boulangerie and no sandwiches at the supermarche. Restaurant lunch it was then, with awesome salads consumed by all!

Replenished, the next stop was Montclus, a gorgeous hill-top town with a pont submersible - accessed down a steep and narrow road complete with portcullis - delightful!

Retracing our steps a little, and braving a couple of rather gratuitous hills, Cornillon was the next stop - another hill-top town (see the theme?), this time with an open-air theatre with balcony views over the countryside. The afternoon heat was beginning to make weary, and after the descent, we stumbled across an open Intermarche, where stocks of cornetto and water were found to be very welcome.

Our final tourist stop was at the Cascades de Sautadet waterfall at Roq sur Cezes, which triggered off a family holiday memory for Nick D, and gave us the opportunity to dangle weary feet into the cold waters for respite.

A number of climbs in the sapping heat followed, before another cafe stop at Cavillargues and the remainder of the ride home, meeting Phil at the post-ride refreshment stop. Tough day out, but very rewarding.


9SundaySEPTEMBER

Uzes Holiday - Pont du Gard

83 km  x6  x6
Ride Category
The classic ride to Pont du Gard, we began at the Roman ruins where the source of the aqueduct if fed in. Coffee was taken at Collias at a rather leisurely pace, so as to not arrive at the lunch stop too early. Andy ensured we we bang on time, when his rear tyre conveniently exploded just before we arrived at the visitor centre, which was most considerate.

After lunch we explored the pont, and then headed out on a very warm and circuitous return to Uzes, via Ledenon and the awesome descent down to Pont St Nicolas, before threading our way back through the vineyards to a very welcome apres-ride refreshment stop.

9SundaySEPTEMBER

Morning Ride

62 km  x3  x1
Ride Category
A select trio set out on a delightful, if somewhat windy, morning.

Dave set the pace on the flat and showed us the way up the hills.

We had planned to stop for a coffee in Lambourn, but :| it was closed.

The route up to Blowingstone with the wind at our tail was a joy. The 'flat' into the wind before the rise up to Sparsholt Firs was a chore.

We were back in WMP by 11:30 feeling pleased with ourselves :D
7FridaySEPTEMBER

Troyes and the Foret d'Orient

58 km  x6  x5
Ride Category
A quick warm-up after a long day in the car. The heat of the day was still very much evident as we had a leisurely ride across the plains, through the forests, around the lake and along the rivers east of Troyes.

Not much to comment on except for the awesome quality of the cycle tracks in the area - they really do put the UK's efforts to shame.

We finished up, as would become a theme throughout the week, with a post-ride beer before heading out to central Troyes for a lovely meal.

3MondaySEPTEMBER

Committee Meeting

 x4