Two of the five French tourists I met today
Today was a really nice bicycling day with lots of climbing, lots of good food, lots of scenery, and five new friends I met near the end of the day. It started with my last climb out of the Tarn Valley, this time heading north from Albi on D600. It was the usual 150 meter or so, 5% or greater grade, climb. Once out of the valley, D600 was a relatively flat, quite scenic route, for the next ten km or so. Then it went down into another valley, climbed back out, and repeated that sequence. I was worried that I was in for more repetitions, but D600 stayed up high (370 m) until the descent into Cordes at about twenty km.
Good riding on the top part of D600
D600 heading down into the second valley
D600 heading down into Cordes
Cordes is another neat medieval town - there are lots of those in France - where I stopped for expresso and to figure out which road to take next. It has a fun fountain on the edge of the medieval part.
I headed north from Cordes on D8, a steep, but beautiful, little road. D8 T's into D992 a few miles, and a lot of steep climbing, later. D992 turned out to be my route for most of the rest of the day. I didn't plan it that way, but I kept ending up on D992 instead of the road I planned on - this happened in both Laguepie and Villefranche! D992 proved to be a good bicycle route all the way to the Lot river.
D8 looking back towards Cordes
D992, unlike D8, climbs and descends gently until It gets near Laguepie. Then it does a several hundred meter, 10% grade, descent with hairpin turns. After Laguepie I planned to ride west of the river, but when I followed the signs through this medieval town, I found myself back on D992. There was no route sign until leaving town and, at that point I had already climbed over 100 m so, after checking my mapping software, I decided to continue on D992. That was an excellent choice; after the initial steep 200 m or so climb, it climbed and descended gently most of the way to Villefranche. Very nice riding! It also had the advantage of having another town, La Fouillade, at just the right place for a lunch stop. I spent 20 Euros and over two hours having a good lunch at a restaurant there!
Descending over 300 m at 7% going into Villefranche
Leaving Villefranche on D992
In Villefranche, I tried to folow the signs for Carjac, but, after much frustration with traffic circles that had no route numbers, I ended up on the road to Villenueve. My mapping software and the roads didn' t match, there were no
route numbers on the signs, and I was annoyed, but, once again, I was on D922 and, once again, it was a very good choice.
D992 runs straight north and my routing to this point was, allowing for a river valley or two, straight north from Cordes to the Valley of the Lot. D992 climbs gradually and intermittently for roughly 20 miles north of Villefranche and than does another great 7% descent to the Lot. I actually missed the turn and zoomed across the river before I realized that I had reached the Lot. I stopped for a break, then rode back across and headed down D86 along the river. A big change from D992!
D86 at D992
Balaguier on the Lot
My original plan had been to cross the lot at the bridge a mile downstream from Balaguier, and the ride up the other side of the valley before heading downstream, I decided to be lazy and just stay heading downstream, but now on the other side of the river. D662 is the road on the other side. It follows, mostly, the railroad track down that side of the Lot Valley.
This is some good medieval - in this case 14 -15th century chalet - in this valley!
I met my first bicycle tourist of this par of the trip in a few miles from Carjac. I caught up with her, and was delighted that we could visit while we rode. She is part of a five member group of friends that get together to tour, and do other things. Several members of the group have been getting together for over 30 years! I met a second member of the group, resting by the road, a short while later, and, by the time we were in Carjac, all five members were together. They invited me to join them for a drink, and I ended up spending the evening with them at a hotel. They had supper and I visited with them till around 10 PM. Of course the conversation was mostly in French, but the company, and the wine they shared with me, was excellent. A good evening!