The start was delightfully flat. My intention is head due North. As always it was warm and dry with a wonderful blue sky. Despite this great beginning I was jolted out my happy state by a brutal ascent to Compeyre. This was the usual uphill slog to a medieval village on top of a hill. Very quaint but not important so early in the day with so far to go.
I extracted myself from this small settlement and then consulted my ‘dangerously’ inaccurate Garmin for a direction north. It advised that this could be achieved with an immediate 1,000m climb. Funnily enough I thought differently and found myself cycling through the sensational Gorges du Tarn. The Tarn flows down this gorge enabling fabulous views and lots of canoeing. More to the point that whilst the road slowly rose it was virtually flat. The scenery was to die for.
The road had early 20th Century tunnels carved out.
The gorge sides towered over the river.
Along the route there were a few cyclists. One lady on an electric bike played leap frog with me as we stopped to take photos or in my case rummage around in my panniers for another energy bar. It goes without saying that I’ve not come across other cycle tourers on the trip so far.
The gorge ends at Sainte-Enimie. I stopped and had a cycle tour staple – omelette and chips (no photos because my phone was on charge, what do you mean we all know what fecking omelette and chips looks like?) There are a couple of ways out of the gorge. They both include 400m climbs. Yes, I know how to enjoy myself! Replete with a full stomach I began a slow ascent. I stopped at 200m up to take a shot of the recycling depot. Well, I didn’t really I had to call ‘FYD’ to give an opinion on engine size for the new car and it’s here I stopped.
The views were staggering.
I did get over the lip of the gorge at 900m only to find that I had another 100m to climb before the deserved descent. (The day racked up another 1,057m). Next was finding a campsite for the night. Looking at my selection of Apps I chose a place in the small town of Chirac. Much to my relief the Boulangerie in the town was open. I made vital purchases.
These campsites should be bursting on weekends but they’re empty. It really is the stay at home Dutch who’ve left the gaps. The site owners usually give instructions on check in where you can pitch but this year they all say ‘wherever you like’.
A real novelty was a picnic table. (I quickly appropriated that). Beside it was a barbecue. These are very unusual for anywhere but Australia. All this for €10.20 for the night.