Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mountains Calling - a short bike tour

After getting a taste of the mountains of the Cevennes on our two day tour to Mt Aigoual, we wanted to get back and explore more. Chisa was planning to spend a few days with her friend, Siobhan and her husband, Christian, at their mountain home in Vialas near Mont Lozere. The ladies were planning a lunch out and some hiking. Siobhan offered to do B&B (and dinner) for us if we wanted to head up that way. How could we turn a great offer like that? So Vialas became our destination for the first day.

We again pulled out the Michelin map and looked for the green highlights that mark the scenic roads.  By looking for twisty roads with triple arrows and green highlights, we were able to plot out a nice route that would have a few climbs and hopefully some nice scenery. We aimed initially for Anduze, as the gateway to the mountains. From Anduze, we followed a gorge west for a while before turning back east to climb the Col d'Uglas, bringing us back down toward Ales. Next we followed some more green highlighted roads over the Col de la Baraque, before picking up some tiny roads that would bring us up to a ridge road that headed for the Col de la Croix de Berthel. From there is would be downhill to Vialas.

Eddie decided to join us for half the day, leaving us after lunch near Ales, to climb back over the Col d'Uglas. Temperatures were reasonable, but it was a bit overcast in the morning. Our experiences over the previous days indicated it might burn off.  John continued to act as packhorse and primary photographer, to somewhat neutralize our speed difference. But I managed to get a few shots of him along the way.

Ah, these are the types of tiny roads John wanted to ride on!

He was just going too fast to get a clear shot! (Last year John insisted I get a new camera so the pictures of him wouldn't be so fuzzy!)

At this point we joined the Route des Crêtes (D35), which translates in English to Route of the Ridges. It was a lovely surprise with many scenic vistas. The low clouds were finally starting to burn off, and in fact, at times it was almost toasty. We spied a sign for ice cream and stopped only to find a boarded up bar. Disappointed after being teased, we rolled on. Fortunately, a short while later I spied some lovely ripe blackberries. And not too long after, we did find a lovely open bar with a great view and ice cold drinks. In another small world coincidence, this was exactly where Chisa and Siobhan had lunch earlier in the day, although they were too early for the view!


After our very round-about not so direct route, we made our way into Vialas, where we stopped at the open shop to top up our supply of snacks for the road, before making our way up to Siobhan's.  Siobhan, Christian and Chisa outdid themselves with a fabulous dinner and wonderful hospitality. We ended up deciding to stay a second night, so we could do a loop ride up and over Mt Lozere the next day. Siobhan recommended a gravel road across the top of the mountain. Stay tuned to see how we did...

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