Start of the journey
Due to delay of my train from Brussels to Switzerland, I was unable to get my direct connection from Mulhouse to Valence. It turned out to become a full TGV Tour de France on Saturday! So good my friends Isabelle and François, who had come from Basel to Mulhouse, were there to help.
In cases of delay however, the TGV SNCF service proofed to be very good! I was still able to take a TGV, first to Paris and then Paris to Valence. Although on the last train there was no bicycle facility at all, they made space for my bike. Merci SNCF!!
It turned out to be a long day of TGV travel, but I was very pleased to still reach the Valence TGV station in the evening and continue on my bike for another 13 km to my final destination for the day, at Montélier.
Heavy thunders that night caused some damage to electricity facilities in the surrounding villages. The weather the next day was still reasonable, but hard wind was my share. I felt as if biking in Holland again! The first 15 km. from Montélier to Combovin, were relatively flat. I took lunch in a small bar in Combovin and talking to the local people made clear that my route in the direction of St. Julien en Quint would be too much to handle for one day. I could not know that my first climb towards Gigors, passing a col of 845 m. would be a really tough one, 12 km non-stop climbing! The height of a col does in itself not say anything about the sloop of it. And Steep it was!
It reminded me of a saying of the well know Dutch cyclists in the ’70, Joop Zoetemelk, who won many competitions. He said climbing is either like dying or getting the flowers (for the winner). Well, cyclists will know very well what I felt this first day. The climb took me almost two and a half hours, and each 100 meters or so I had to recover from the enormous effort.
Yes, the first days in the mountains are the most difficult as you need to build condition. Then, finally arriving at the top and then going down, makes you realise what you have achieved!! The beautiful landscape and views, when going down are so rewarding!
How happy and satisfied I felt to reach the quit town of Beaufort-sur-Gervanne late afternoon, where I had a good meal and spent a long night in a little hotel.