13 days in the Ardeche
During the period from 14th – 28th June I spent 13 days in the French region known as the Ardeche. The area is a beautiful place for cycling as you have plenty of deep valleys and gorges to descend into and explore, with rolling hills and mountains of varying steepness and length to climb up and over. Because of this, the Ardeche region (Verte) is an area I love to cycle in, but another reason is because it’s so quiet with hardly any traffic to contend with, especially when in the rural areas.
The trip down
From Ouistreham, it’s about a 7-8 hour drive travelling through the heart of France at a steady speed (110-130kph) along the motorways (toll roads). Once at Saint Etienne it’s then a case of driving to Annonay and then taking the D86 to Tournon-sur-Rhone.
The three of us, my partner Nikki, our friend Ania (wearing the Alé Women's PRR Barbados Short Sleeve Jersey) and myself, all stayed in a gorgeous gite on the outskirts of Tournon on top of a small 1600 ft mountain. This meant the start of the rides were great as we had to descend, but the finish of the rides were not so great – especially if we had a hard day prior the climb home, but the views were stunning.
Out of the 13 days there, I ventured out on the bike for 12 of them covering a total distance of 793 miles and I climbed a total of 61, 787ft. The longest route I did was on a very hot day and I decided to ride from the Rhone-Alpes crossing the windy (Mistral) Rhone valley to the lower French Alps (Drome region) and back again. A ride distance of 104 miles with 8914 ft of climbing.
The kit used
During the trip my cycling wardrobe consisted of various branded apparel kits (jersey and bib shorts). These brands were Panache, Etxeondo, Primal (Helix Exion), Ale (PRR Bermuda) and my Team Wiggle kit. Also, my helmet of choice was the Kask Mojito – a truly comfortable helmet to wear.
Nikki is wearing the Alé Women's Plus Sleeveless Jersey (below). She likes this type of jersey because of the full zip and the fact that you don’t get the arm tan lines in hot conditions. I, on the other hand, am proud of my cycling tan lines.
Pictured below is myself wearing the extremely colourful and comfortable Alé Graphics PRR Bermuda Bib Shorts (SS16) and Alé Graphics PRR Bermuda Jersey. The colours are very flamboyant, but I think it works really well. Having tanned skin does though enhance the look of this race-fit kit, especially the bright orange and fluro yellow leg grippers.
Keeping me fuelled during and after the rides was High5 nutrition products. These products consisted of their Isogel and Energy Gels, the great tasting Zero hydration tabs, my favourite flavoured drink - EnergySource (Mojito) and their delicious Protein Recovery drink (chocolate flavour mixed with fresh milk).
I have cycled in the Alps twice before and found it very busy with cars and people. I’m sure there are quiet areas, but the Rhone-Alpes (Ardeche) offers so much more. Beautiful landscapes, quiet roads, long mountain climbs, very short and extremely steep climbs, quaint sleepy villages, friendly people and warm sunshine. We are returning in September and again next year to discover more roads and take in the extremely steep climbs that I discovered but couldn’t fit in during this trip.
The region is well known for the mistral winds blowing through the Rhone Valley and the abundance of fruit grown here: apricots, cherries, peaches to name a few.
A great area to stay in for uninterrupted cycling, but if you want to experience more local cycling then why not take part in the biggest cycling festival in Europe known as the L’Ardechoise. Held in Saint Felicien, it’s a huge event over a week involving thousands of cyclist (15,000 usually). We took part in the event on Tuesday and it’s brilliant.
Giro Delle Dolomiti
Well the Giro Delle Dolomiti awaits and I have done as much as I can to prepare for it. Until then it’s just a case of getting more long rides in at a faster pace and racing locally.