Cycling through the Langhe

This area in central Northwest Italy in the region of Piedmont is a spectacular destination for cyclists. Rolling hills resembling the Berkshires of Massachusetts and Vermont’s Green Mountains rise from the PO river plane south of Turin and Milan and climb to the Appennine ridge, neighboring Liguria and the Mediterranean Sea just 100 kilometers / 60 miles to the south. Literally thousands of kilometers of small, paved country roads lace through the Langhe affording the cyclist plenty of pleasurable biking terrain. The Piedmont is home to the Slow Food movement begun in 1986 in Bra. The area abounds in cafés, trattorias, bars and restaurants whose owners and chefs take the movement to heart in recreating “cucina tipica Piemontese” in new and delicious ways. Always a nearby gelateria or bar to refuel your ride! 

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Sunday’s club ride up Mont Ventoux

Summer seems finally here with Rhône valley in the upper eighties, but climbing Mt Ventoux the air progressively cools – here are the final switchbacks to the summit…

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Video clip of the ride from Sault back down into the Toulourenc valley

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A day of mist and rain. So rest, bike maintenance and pâté en croute

Last week was classic Provençal weather with a day of rain, but then sunny, warm clear days. We have been exploring the pre-Alps range of mountains called the Barronies – Beautiful, quiet roads and a café just when you need it.

A day off from riding to read, work on bikes and debate the merits of various pâté en croute. This one wins the day – duck, wood pigeon and foie gras – washed down with a 2010 Lirac from Mont Redon of Chateauneuf du Pape.

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Cycling up the Gorge de la Nesque – Provence, France

Here is a short clip from our 86 mile ride that circumnavigates the Mont Ventoux massif. It includes the ride up the stunning Gorge de la Nesque; lunch in the village of Sault overlooking miles of lavender fields and a thrill ride descent back to the Rhône valley through the Vallée de Le Toulourenc. With Lisa Drake, Scott Woodard, Erik Hansen & Ric Doucette

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Our ride to the summit of Mont Ventoux

The weather in Provence these past three weeks has been unusually cool with many weather fronts passing through. This morning was clear and calm, so we headed for the 60-mile loop that includes the col de Mont Ventoux. We left Séguret for the newly rebuilt and widened road to Entrechaux and the direct route to Malaucène.

The “classic” way up Mont Ventoux, or as Le Tour de France takes it, is from Bedoin. I prefer going up from Malaucène. It is at times steeper, but the road is wider, better surfaced, visually much more interesting and has a few flat sections that give you a respite from the climb. While the car barriers are still down, the road is dry and clear despite intermittent storms that pass through and snow banks along the roadside. You generate plenty of heat climbing and don’t think much about the cold alpine air. It feels great to descend into the warm Rhône valley air below as we ride back home.

Click on the map for details of the ride.

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Sunday ride through the Luberon, Provence

Sunday dawned clear and cool. After a quick breakfast we left Séguret headed for the Luberon, our neighboring region to the south. Perhaps made somewhat recently famous by Peter Mayle’s book, A Year in Provence, it is beyond beautiful with picturesque towns such as Gordes, Murs, and Venasque amongst many others. It is a quick, gradually descending traverse from Séguret to Mazan and Venasque on well surfaced departmental roads that skirt Carpentras and traffic to the West. Weekend cyclists are everywhere and many “Bonjours” and “Allez, allez” are passed amongst us.

Twenty miles in, we cross into the Parc naturel régional du Luberon and climb into the valley where the Abbaye de Sénanque is nestled amongst dormant lavender fields. After a quick loop through the driveway of the abbaye we continue our ride to Gordes, and gain the road that will take us to Murs. Spring has begun and the fields are verdant green and trees are just budding. We circle back through the col de Murs and mix it up with a Sunday amateur car rally passing through. We stop for a lunch of moules frites, a french staple, and soak up the Spring sun and Sunday market scene. Back on the bike for the twenty mile ride back home and Sunday papers (online!)

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