Saturday, July 3, 2010

Des Réparages

My first bike tour. And I'm busy checking out all the details. I've biked the two routes I knew least: up and over the Alpilles from Mouriès to Eygalières, Eygalières (and our favorite organic winery in the region) to St Rémy de Provence, then St Rémy de Provence to Avignon.

I was a bit apprehensive for the first. I've always been someone who loved to bike. For years I only had a bike not a car (in my past lives in NY and Seattle), but it'd been awhile. Could someone who walks lots and does somewhat regular yoga be able to ride over the steep Alpilles hills? And yes, no problem. Thus, if I can do it so can my clients. It's 6-7 kilometers going up and up at a relatively stable slope/pitch. I shifted gears, drank water, stopped to photograph a bit on the way, and managed fine. Oh yes, far more experienced individuals did pass me. But that's okay. I wasn't racing, I was enjoying the views of olive orchards, vineyards, shaded roads, majestic rocky cliffs. T'was well worth the ride.

I was greeted with joy and liquids by my friends at the winery (Domaine d'Eole, see their link), got my bearings and headed off to St. Rémy de Provence. There's a lovely road that parallels the main road that I could take. It is the ancient Via Aurelia (think Roman times) and is lined with some of the most spectacular country estates...

I arrived in St Remy, if not fresh, then certainly not exhausted. The total for the day was 20 or so kilometers. And though the thermometer read 41C (101F), I was easily refreshed with a cool white chocolate and fresh mint drink (or two) at the chocolatier's. Ahhhh

My second day's tour (St. Rémy to Avignon) was done in the company of dear friends from Boston/Arlington. Off we went on rented bikes, water and fruit in our sacs. We took the route I'd wanted to take, along all the smallest roads, through my favorite villages, saw the reassuring sign that noted that my favorite baker in Maillane will be back from vacation in time for my group next week (yes!) and toodled along up to the bike rental shop just beside the ramparts in Avignon.

Though we set out at 11:00, and it was already beastly hot, we managed the not-quite two hour ride with ease, though our faces did get a bit red. Many of the roads are shaded with the wonderful plane trees of Provence (aka sycamores) and biking along we felt a lovely breeze. All sweat was whisked away by the dry air, but we kept ourselves replenished with water.

Thank you friends! and thank you Provence for being so lovely. I'm now assured of the ease and pleasure of the routes I'll be taking, and bonus -- there'll be lavender fields, sunflower fields, vineyards, rocky cliffs, olive groves, canals, and sweet villages to bike through and past. Photo-ops aplenty.

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