A Chilly Cycle in France

We assumed we had cycled every exiting road from our village, but surprise, surprise!

The other day the Boyfriend discovered a new road to cycle and suggested that I go and explore its winding path as I might enjoy it…   This hidden road could be found only a few minutes from our chalet slinking off secretly into the darkness of the fir trees.

The day before we had our first dusting of snow land on the mountain peaks which left us with a dazzling picture postcard scene, reminding us that winter was on the way! Outside the mountain air felt as chilly as the inside of a refrigerator.  Layers of thermals were worn to stop any biting chill from nipping at my skin.

The lumpy bumps of the untouched road inclined at first taking me up beside the flow of the river, then it evened out and was almost flat.  This road had to be the flattest road around this region.  It was a welcoming change not having to puff up steep inclines.

The road soon transformed from bumpy to smooth – The fresh tar seal was like pedalling on a sheet of glass.  The bicycle responded in joy at the new tarmac and cruised along like a glider at top speed.

I pedalled past a handful of treacle coloured chalets and felt the shadowy hand of the valley wrap itself around me.   The fiery leaves of Autumn burned like hot embers on the branches and coloured the dark slopes.  I breathed in the damp cool air.  My exposed body parts became numb and I found myself pedalling faster to generate more heat in my body.

A field of shaggy mountain goats caught my eye and I had to stop – they trotted up to me with similar curiosity.  Their impressive lengthy fur and horns captivated me until the chilly air easily got me on the move again.

Organised piles of fire wood were being stored and last-minute repairs to the house roof were chores being undertaken by wispy moustached locals as I pedalled by.

‘Bonjour!’  they would call with a friendly twinkle in their eye.

A lone restaurant sat in the open valley with its empty petanque court.  The river continued to flow alongside the road and the snowy mountains became giants.  Tinkling cow bells could be heard in the distance.  It all seemed rather magical…

That was until the road began to climb, steeply and quickly.  I was not ready for the sudden sharp incline and was caught out of breath.  The road didn’t let up in fact the further I pedalled the steeper it got.  It wound itself up the mountainside like a liquorice strap, twisting and turning.

My body became a working furnace and thermal layers were having to be pulled off one by one.  As I climbed higher the valley below proudly displayed the shadowy outlines of the rocky mountains and like a bunch of old men who congregate with cigars, the wispy smoke floating out of the chimney pipes.

The road finally rounded its last bend and I was rewarded with a stunning lake hugged by white frosted trees and snowy mountain peaks.  It was breathtaking.  My struggling uphill climb was wiped from memory.  I was totally in awe of my surroundings.  Mother nature had caught my imagination.  This quiet hidden road had surprised me in every way…

On the cycle back I battled a buffeting ice biting breeze!  Once home and with the help of the heater it took a while for my extremities to regain any sensation.

The last of the Autumn sunshine has briefly returned to the alps and I can now say I have also experienced cycling this hidden road a few times in glorious sunshine.  It continues to take my breath away – not just the feeling in my fingers and toes.

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29 Responses to A Chilly Cycle in France

  1. Looks like a fantastic trip, makes me want to visit rural France again ASAP

  2. Ah! I feel bad, but I’ve got to stop reading these posts! Why? Because no trip could ever be more picturesque than your astounding prose! And the photos are daunting as well– could any place actually look that good?? Clearly, any trips I might make are doomed to disappoint… : P

    Roads “slinking off secretly into the darkness of the fir trees”; feeling the “shadowy hand of the valley” wrapping itself around one’s person; “wispy moustached locals” calling “Bonjour!”; chimney pipes in valleys smoking “like a bunch of old men who congregate with cigars”… really, sir! You go too far!!– my imagination’s on overload!!

    Well, my dear fellow, one of your best, but of course I always seem to be saying that. I think my favorite part was when the goats looked at you and thought: “Lord! we’ve seen some strange lookin’ creatures, but this chap takes the prize!!” : )

    Superb post, please do reward yourself with 5 extra minutes in front of the heater!! : )

    • lovethybike says:

      Mark – please don’t stop reading my posts as I am sure I would miss reading your glowing comments! Thank you for always taking the time to read and comment on each of my posts. I rewarded myself with extra heater time just as you suggested!

  3. rachaelp10 says:

    What would be your top ten cycling in autumn/winter tips?

    • lovethybike says:

      I am not sure I have a top ten but I would highly recommend investing in a warm cycling gear ( especially for the head, hands and feet ) and then to make sure you take it easy on down hill roads incase there is hidden icy patches on the road. Lights are also important incase of fog or rain… Hope that helps?

  4. Madoqua says:

    Great post, it sounds like a superb place to ride.

  5. beingouthere says:

    “The fiery leaves of Autumn burned like hot embers on the branches and coloured the dark slopes” ……. really nice metaphor! Great pics!

  6. jcreore says:

    You really make me wish that I could ride a bicycle (never learned as a child and failed miserably when I tried in my 50s)! These posts from France are some of your best, and the photos are incredible. I certainly plan to revisit the French Alps in the next year or two and hope to find as charming a village as this one, where the hiking is good.

    • lovethybike says:

      Cheers! It is never too late to learn – I am sure you would love the breeze through your hair and the rush of adrenaline from pedalling about. If you make it to the Alps the hiking around here is amazing! I have managed to do a few trails and the views are to die for!

  7. tootlepedal says:

    Great pictures of what seems to have been a really great ride.

  8. What gorgeous photos. Thanks so much for sharing. — Love & Light.

  9. Tahoe Sux says:

    As always, a beautiful post. Love your simple way of telling a story, and the pics never disappoint.

  10. PHolloway says:

    Some stunning photos there. Looks like an amazing ride.

  11. Breathtaking vistas. Stunning photos.

  12. suzecycling says:

    As a twist on the old postcard, instead of saying “wish you were here” I’ll just say “wish I were there.”

  13. maru says:

    Lovely… indeed! Thanks for sharing the joy.
    Such good captures.

  14. What a beautiful post. Looks like a fabulous place to explore.

  15. I have to say this is an incredible and inspiring post. To be able to cycle in France with the alps surrounding the trek, would be for me a marvelous dream. Stop by my blog my last four posts are bike / Autumn themed.

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