|Ginals, France, July 2015 - 48.5 miles|
|Sometimes, despite best efforts, some things just don't go to plan. The French with their love of art, two-hour lunches and wine, also love to push pointless pieces of paper around.....very slowly, so we wouldn't getting our keys when we expected. However, this meant I had more time for cycling in this beautiful part of south-west France - and that made all of this tardiness bearable!|
Right from the off I was into a fairly significant climb (for a man used to cycling in the Midlands) and I'd barely had chance to turn the pedals before I found myself considering moving off the big ring! I'd have liked at least a bit of a warm up but the sun was just coming up, I was the coolest I'd felt for 48 hours and the roads were silky smooth and empty - so little grounds to complain by all accounts.
From Ginals, up into Lardialle and immediately out again I stopped to look back to catch my breath and take a photo. I was already sweating and could have thought I was being chased until I realised the panting noise was coming from me!
|Looking back to Lardialle|
|The road to Castanet|
|Najac towering in the distance|
|On the bridge below Najac|
|The Aveyron at Najac|
|The castle at Najac|
The temperature down here at the bridge was positively cold given its aspect and the sheer height and steepness of the wooded hills. The chill was welcome again but soon forgotten as the road began to head upwards as soon as I'd passed the pool and the campsite. The road continued to be devoid of cars and I only saw one other cyclist heading in the opposite direction and going up the way I'd just come to Saint Andre - a climb I vowed to return to soon. Rather than head east to Montirat and Mirandol Bourgagnac, I'd opted to head back south-west to Laguepie and along the stunning road that tracks above the river Viaur until it meets the Aveyron and the photo shoot!
|Saint Martin Laguepie|
|Chateau Roc at Laguepie|
|Kuota KOM Air Vs Laguepie|
I knew the route well from here which heads into Le Riols below Varen, switching sides along the train tracks. Here the land is mostly agricultural and it was corn, hay and sun flowers on all sides as the road indicates its part in one of the marked "LeTarn a Velo" routes - one of a large network in the local area. This particular route runs from Montauban to Laguepie and would definitely make an amazing and eventful 85kms.
|Varen from Le Riols|
Whilst enjoying the view and waving to a couple who looked to be bicycle touring, I was pondering what lay in wait for me in the long, tough climb back up to Espinas which I knew would be punishing in this heat and especially since I was already out of fluid. I told myself it meant less weight to drag up the climb and got on with business of hitting the climb like I meant it. It was a long drag in the heat and made longer by the false flat that passes along the plateau for what seemed like ages. Its around 6.5 miles from the base of the climb to the hamlet of Espinas and one which isn't a particularly easy one after 40 miles of rolling hills!
Luckily, just as I could feel my head pounding inside my helmet, there's a brief flat followed by a short descent before levelling out again. It is now all downhill back to Ginals and in the heat that was, I have to admit, a very welcome sight. The sun was now high enough to really make things an effort and as I pulled up to the gates I was feeling quite spent. The ride though had been amazing. Great roads, better views and more to explore - I just couldn't wait to get out there again! Maybe less wine and beer before the next one though....
Strava details for this ride is here: