Kayaker in the rain.

kayak_sanca

A kayaker heads in as the rain picks up south of Sanca, British Columbia. Actually it rained most mornings with temps hovering in the mid 40’s but we were well prepared. Even with weather like that, I would sign up for this ride again in a heartbeat.

Farewell to Provence.

gordesAn early morning fog on our last day in Provence made the unbelievable landscape seem even more dreamlike and if that wasn’t enough, a hot air balloon was like an etherial exclamation point at the end of an amazing week with Trek Travel!

 

Cycling in Provence: Day 5

 

GORDES_2aGordes, France. We’re staying at a beautiful hotel about a 5 minute ride away. Today we rode through town on our way out to Bonnieux.

gordes_alley

Luckily there are other routes to bike through the town rather than these steep and narrow streets.

WINDMILL_3

A windmill near the town of Lacoste.with_maryHere’s a shot of me and my traveling companion, and fellow adventurer of nearly 30 years!

 

Cycling in Provence: Day 4

Gorges_de_la_NesqueToday we biked along the Gorges de la Nesque. The road frequently cuts through the mountainside. We left in a light rain which got progressively heavier as we continued along.

tim_andrea_3Tim and Andrea are the people who have dragged me into cycling. They did a Trek Travel riding camp on the island of Mallorca off the coast of Spain last year. _C6A9959fPart of our crew heading into one of the tunnels on the route._C6A0014uFiona and Mel are approaching the descent into Sault.

 

Cycling in Provence: Day 3

le_mont_ventoux_2-1aAbove: Le Mont Ventoux. Nicknamed the “Beast of Provence,” this is the climb that’s kept most of us honest in our training all summer. A frequent stop on the Tour de France, this ascent features grades of up to 13% and has almost no switchbacks on which to catch your breath. We begin the day with a gentle 10k warmup from Mazan to Bédoin._C6A9810cThe classic ascent is the 21.5 kilometer climb out of Bédoin with an elevation of 950 feet. The first 5k starts out easily enough with an initial grade of 4.5%, but after you hit St. Esteve the average grade is 9%. At the end of  the 1622k (5000 foot) ascent you are treated to a 10% grade in the last 1500 meters for good measure.

Ventoux Bedoin profile

simpson_shrineJust about 1500 meters below the summit there is a shrine to British rider Tom Simpson who died on the ascent during the Tour de France in 1967. It has become something of a shrine to all cyclists, featuring plaques, stones and notes with messages to departed loved ones.

KAREN_1860Karen (one of the 10 riders from our Trek Travel group to make today’s climb) summits Ventoux. She’s the president of the Franklin County Cycling Club in Pennsylvania, and in my opinion, happens to be one of the best climbers out here.

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In retrospect, it’s rather comical to hoist my bike over my head when in took me 2 hours and 11 minutes to climb Ventoux. The record ascent for a Tour de France rider from Bédoin was set by Charly Gaul of  Luxembourg in 1958 with a time of 1h 2m 9s. (There are faster recorded times, but they have since been stripped due to doping). Chris Froome blazed up the Malaucene route in 48 minutes last year, becoming the first Brit to win the Ventoux stage and sealing the deal in his Tour de France GC win.