June 17th, 2005


Gorge Loop, Thur May 12

"A City Without a Star"

Thursday in the gorge was a bit of a rest day. We were scheduled to stay there two nights, which meant we could go on one of several loop rides, or do nothing at all if preferred. The gorge was certainly beautiful, the hotel tucked right underneath a cliff, a delightful place to spend a second night.

We had been pedaling hard for four days in a row, and my legs were pretty tired and sore -- especially after all those hills the previous day. We were offered several bicycling options, if desired, or we could try hiking around in the gorge. The shortest ride was to Apt, which sounded like an adequate city but nothing special. NO stars in our trusty Michlan guides.

The other problem with going to Apt was the gorge itself. The ride down to the bottom was long, steep, and a lot of fun -- the ride back up to the top didn't sound nearly as nice. In fact, it sounded like "a world of pain", as Brek kept warning us! So I was rather hesitant about the idea of going for a ride. If that wasn't convincing enough, the gorge also had a tempting swimming pool that looked like it would feel wonderful when the sun peaked in the sky.

Still I also disliked the idea of doing nothing. Sure we could have just relaxed at the bottom of the gorge, drinking coffee and enjoying the sun. In fact, we did that all morning. Then we had a nice leisurely lunch at the hotel's restaurant with Jen. I had a funky shrimp dish that came in a big tinfoil package, complete with heads and tails, and little black eyes that stared back at you (I didn't eat those though).

The hotel's restaurant had an outdoor terrace, with a stunning view of the rock wall and trees. It was an impressive place to have lunch.

After lunch though, Lynn and I decided to EARN our dinner. We went for a hike. (Of course, we hadn't brought hiking clothes or shoes, so we had to wear an odd combination of biking gear and city clothes. It worked though.) First we walked along the river, admiring the woods and rapids and such....

(read more!)

Gorge to Aix, Friday May 13

"To say nothing of the dog"

We got up early for our final ride in Provence, 49 km. We were lucky, because we didn't have to ride up to get out of the gorge. Instead, we got to ride down to Lourmarin, where we found a really nice outdoor market. This is something they have every Friday morning, with cheeses, breads, sausages, tons of fruit and veggies, plus a variety of other stuff - scarves, clothes, etc. We picked up fixings for a picnic lunch (and a small knife to chop up the fixings), and I fell in love with an adorable little puppy.

I really wanted to take him with me. He would have fit perfectly in my bicycle's front bag, and I could picture him sitting happily in there, front paws sticking out, ears flying behind him as we sped down the hill. But I knew I'd have trouble getting him through customs, so I sadly left him behind... then we climbed back on our bikes and continued the journey.

(read more!)