• James & Kate

Onwards, upwards and oh so nearly there

Our penultimate day today, and an epic one. The ride was mostly along the incredibly striking Gorge Du Verdon. Gorges, as you might have guessed, are seriously hilly, and as the second biggest gorge in the world (after the Grand Canyon which is actually a Gorge not a Canyon) this one was especially so. The edited highlights from the guidebook probably paint the purest picture:

‘The route takes in the highest point of the whole route’

‘Appreciate the drama’ (it’s been dramatic enough already)

‘The road starts to ascend’

‘The road rises’

‘This is a category one climb’

‘One of the most challenging and the most rewarding climbs’

‘The road keeps ascending...’

‘The road continues to carry you upwards’

And so on and so forth. As you can imagine, all this constant climbing got us high (and not because of Hypoxemia, which was a very real concern at multiple stages). We climbed 1500m in total, our single biggest day of climbing (yes, I thought that was Mont Ventoux too).

Semi-luckily, we got a short break halfway through when we ducked under cover at a roadside drinks shack to avoid a hailstorm. Whilst waiting 30mins we got our phones out to admire some of the shots we had taken, which evidently infuriated the cafe owner who came over to us and imposed some advice:

‘Can I suggest to you something’ (imagine a strong French accent on a skinny hippie-esque 40 year old). ‘Please, leave the phone. Enjoy this view’. And she didn’t stop until we actually put our phones away.

I don’t think she was seeing what we were seeing. Which was a white blanket of ice bullets firing from all directions. It was pretty impossible to see anything at all.

She was entirely oblivious to the fact that we had just spent the last 4 hours staring into nature’s eyes from the saddle. We were totally zen. She clearly wasn’t.

But I digress. Overall it was a challenging day but well rewarded by epic views. And as a bonus, when we got to Castellane, we spent a couple of hours with Malawi’s very own Madalisto Band and the one and only Neil Nyar who have been touring Europe. They’re in the UK next this August so if you’re planning Wilderness Festival or WOMAD make sure you see them!

Time for some shut-eye and to rest up, one last time, for a big ride tomorrow to finish this adventure off.

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