Yesterday's route features some of the most stunning vistas of the whole cycling trip. Unfortunately, we saw none of them because all around us was enshrouded in fog.
We started out yesterday morning under cloudy skies. Mist hung over the mountains and down into the valleys.
|All of our bikes were set out under the chestnut tree, ready for their riders|
|We had some nice views of the Gorge de la Bourne|
|We passed through this village, which was kind of cool|
We decided to stop around 10:30 or so at a pastry shop in a small town through which we passed, Saint Jean-en-Royans. It was the first decent patisserie we had encountered since arriving in France ten days ago. Some of the pastries I had not seen since being here 30 years ago on my Mormon mission. It was difficult to choose which one I wanted. I ended up with one with a brioche base topped with glazed raspberries and chantilly cream.
As it turned out, we were both glad we had stopped for nourishment because the first big climb of the day - Col de la Machine - lay ahead.
|The tour company arranged a picnic|
The eeriest part of the ride was after lunch, when we started climbing to the Col de la Bataille. We rode into a dense forest, and it wasn't long before we were immersed in fog so thick we often could not see riders 10 meters ahead of us. At other times, they were ghostly figures who became briefly, darkly visible, only to be enshrouded seconds later. Fog cascaded down slopes or rose up out of the forested decline below, enveloping us. After a while, it became claustrophobic when anxiety arose that we would never get out of it.
At times, such as in the lead photo (which was taken before lunch), we knew that we were on the edge of a precipice, but couldn't see anything at all. At other times, we sensed drop-offs on both sides of the road with the wind tossing the fog to and fro, reminding me of those taffy machines one sees at county fairs, working the taffy back and forth and up and down.
Finally, after descending from the Col de la Bataille, we got out of the fog, emerging into a valley bedecked with wild flowers. After one more lower ascent, we began a long descent into the wide valley of the Rhone. It felt so, so good to be bathed in sunshine.
Today, we set off for Provence and Vaison-la-Romaine, where we will be for three nights. Can't wait!
|The valley of the Rhone near Valence, France|