Auvare

Distance:19.8 miles. Elevation: 3044 ft

I might as well do a report now. I had prepared today for an epic 50-mile journey in the Gorge du Cian and it’s been scuppered 7 miles into the journey.

The ride to the gorge went well, along a main road that followed the rail that followed the river

As soon as I turned off the main road to go into the gorge I saw a sign which didn’t look promising,

… but I carried on anyway. The gorge is absolutely magnificent – almost impossible to capture on camera, the sheer scale of it.

A couple of k up the road I saw the road fenced off.

So I squeezed me and my bike through and carried on, hoping for the best. The great thing was that I had the road all to myself.

But I eventually came to where the workers were working

Just round the corner from that van was where they were working. I asked them politely whether I could go through, but there was no way. They said this section would be open at 5pm but there is still another blockage 10K up the road which is closed every hour of every day. They’re doing some sort of work securing the rocks – they all had hard hats but I noticed there was a little dog running around and he wasn’t wearing a hard hat – ha!. So I’ve cycled back to the fence and I’m really at a loss as to what to do now, as I’m all geared up for a massive ride yet I’ve only done 8 miles and it’s a beautiful cloudless hot sunny day, so I might try and do the rest of this route the other way round which could be interesting, or not. So I’m going to try that – that means cycling back past my van.

… LATER THAT DAY…

Since the last report, I went back to the van and quickly designed a new route through the hills north of Puget-Théniers, and set off afresh.

There’s a mini gorge coming out of Puget-Théniers,

Walnut whip?

and now I’m on a twisty road climbing up into the hills with predominantly woods around.

I can hear a river down in the valley somewhere. It’s a totally perfect day, not a cloud in the sky and lovely and warm but not too ridiculous. For the last mile or so I’ve been exposed to the sun, on my neck, so I decided to stop in the shade and put my neck protector thing on.

SOME TIME LATER…

I’m doing this report from a picnic bench with about the best view in the world. It’s situated at the top of the long climb I’ve just done. The climb seemed to go on forever. Every time I thought it was going to end, it didn’t. At one point I saw a village looking thing over on an opposite cliff.

Interesting-looking village and road carved into the rockface

It looked interesting. It wasn’t actually on my route. Shortly after that, just as I came to the turn-off for that village, there was a picnic table where my planned route, to the left, unexpectedly became a gravelly, stony road that didn’t look good.

I went down it a short way but realised there’s no way I was going to risk going down to wherever that road went and maybe having to climb on the same surface further along, which would be impossible on a road bike. In fact I could see a bit of the road that looked extremely steep. I wouldn’t fancy going down that or up it.

I tried to ride back up the gravelly road but had zero traction so I couldn’t get going, so I walked back to the turn-off for the village (Auvare), where the picnic table was. I thought I may as well go and see what Auvare was like, wondering if the road went through it and beyond. So I rode towards it.

Well this is a very natty looking balcony road!

Well, the road didn’t go through it and beyond, it just petered out into some stairs and things near a beautiful smelling lavender bush.

The village was really quaint. Stuck up here in the middle of nowhere, it still had street lights, bus service, public toilet, recycling bins, etc, public notice board. I love it!

So decided to ride back to the picnic table and have my half a squished sandwich, just taking in the view and the ambience and the total peace.

Took this photo and realised there was a tree growing out of my head
.. so I took another one, and didn’t notice that now I had a mast growing out of my head!

I’ve resigned myself to just descending the whole of the 8 miles I’ve just climbed and leave it at that for today. Looks like everything I try today isn’t really working properly – it’s a shame because it is the most beautiful day.

You can’t beat a good roofscape
.. nor a good bridge!

Still, I’ve had a good bit of exercise and seen some amazing things – what more do I want!?

Click on the images below to view as a gallery


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