Le Ballon d’Alsaces, was nothing more than a rite of passage, it had been foggy, cold, and dusk was settling in. Both of us were ready for a more positive experience for our next mountain pass.
Today would truly be a learning day for Valentino.
Under a beautiful, sunny, warm spring day, Viviane and Gilles both experience mountain riders on their DR 650, took us on a 250 km ride that turned out to be an experience of a lifetime, pure adrenaline rush, between breath taking scenery.
We left Vif at about 10:00 and headed towards le Pont du Brion over a river giving life to an electricity producing damn on le plateau de Trièves.
From there we had an impressive view of le Mont de l’Aiguille, one of the most recognizable peaks of this region of the French Alps.
We then headed through our first pass of the day, on la route du Col de Menée, where my riding skills were quickly put to the test by several hairpin turns, thigh S turns and even tighter U’s.
Two Happy people
Our second stage in the twisties was le Cirque d’Archiane, where we stopped for a pic-nick.
Too tie the morning up we stopped in the medieval village of Chatillon en Dios, the pillions indulge in a cold local beer, and the riders in a stiff espresso.
Europe is so civilized!
The sun was shinning and we decided to go for a walk through the village, where we met a local elder who explained to us that the reason that all the narrow streets in the village have the prefix Viol (rape in French) ahead of their name had nothing to do with the violent act, but more with an old French deformation of the latin Via (for way).
Relieved by her explanation and slightly less dumb, we went on, on our visit. There I drank from the fountain’s icy cold water flowing down from the glacier high above us.
Gilles then asked me if I was now ready to go for a ride? This morning’s passes, at some 1450 meters were just a warm up. Be ready he said. And so we headed to la route du Col de Rousset, and le Col d’Alexis.
There we stopped and spent a few moments reflecting on the lives lost, and to the memory of the French resistance who took heavy casualties as they combatted the German oppression during WWII (La Flamme ne s’éteindra jamais).
Next we headed to le Col de la Chau, after which we stopped at le Font d’Urle, a natural wind tunnel. Hold on to your hat because if you drop your done.
Just a bit windy
We made our way back down to the plains, contemplating the green pastures of the valley, and passed la Forêt de Lente where the wolves still roam free.
Next would be the most challenging, and breathtaking ride of the day as we took le Col de la Machine, and headed for la route de Combe Laval, where the road literally carved out of the mountain was not more then a few meters wide, and wrap by spectacular sheer cliffs dropping more than 400 meters deep.
Needless to say that my piloting abilities were improving by the minute, or should I say by the meter.
And the classic
A quick look back
Just a few more
And that one
Lots of really cool french bikers
We winded down the pass and made a panoramic stop at the village of Pont en Royans with its typical houses build over water.
Just one more said Gilles with a grin as we headed for la Gorge de la Bourne, and winded down le Col St Nizier before stopping at a cheese-maker's shop to purchase some traditional goat, and lamb cheeses.
Did I mentioned that Europe is civilized already?
We made a last scenic view stop of Grenoble lying flat deep in the valley surrounded by the magnificent white peaks of le Massif de Belledonne, and the rest of the white powdered tips of the Alps.
Far to the outstretch of the horizon, stood out like a king among its court, the majestic Mont Blanc.
Wow! what a day it had been, both of us dizzy from such breath taking beauty. Try to remember the last time you did a 250 km ride, and never had a chance to hit 3rd gear before it was time for the next curve.
Well that’s the kind of day it was for us in this part of the world.
Tuesday we head West through the Massif Central for a night in Aurillac, to the Atlantic coast of France, along the coast to cross the Pyrenees, and enter into Spain.