In Lourmarin: west toward Cavaillon - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

November 15, 2022

In Lourmarin: west toward Cavaillon

While Rachael’s scrambling up into the heights along the Combe de Lourmarin to take in some inspiring views down and out, I’m biking west toward Cavaillon on an out and back along the base of the Petit Luberon, the half of the range on the west side of the Combe.  As usual with out and backs, I’ve mapped out a route for myself that’s longer than I’m likely to ride just to keep my options open.  If I follow it to the end I’ll be rounding the west end of the Luberons on the doorstep of Cavaillon, approaching it from the southeast.

The quick study that I am, I do well this morning to learn from yesterday’s mistake and manage to start the route on my Garmin rather than delete it.  A quarter mile later I’m gliding past the chateau braying back at the donkeys; and a quarter mile after that I’m bouncing over rocks and dodging puddles as I unexpectedly find myself on an unpaved stretch.  It’s a good thing I didn’t talk Rachael into joining me today, or I’d be hearing about it.

Colorful, but not the way I expected to begin the day.
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Not bad really, but not the worst of it.
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While I’m walking through the roughest patches I look up and admire the Luberons. I’ll be enjoying views like this all day.
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This rough patch doesn’t last long though and in half a mile I’m back on pavement, finding myself shifting down for a surprisingly steep but short hill.  Then more rough terrain with more inspiring views as compensation, and finally I break out onto what feels like a normal cycling road.  It’s been a slow go up until now, taking me nearly an hour to rack up my first four miles.

Looking back down. Steeper than it looks - at 15%, it’s a slope a Welshman mightn’t sniff at.
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Patrick O'HaraDoes this slope bring back memories of Wales for you...?
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Patrick O'HaraOnly in a very small way, because it was very short. I just whine a lot, as you know by now.
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1 week ago
The Petit Luberon isn’t all that petite.
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An outrageously beautiful time to be here.
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Janice BranhamGracious, that is a lovely scene
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1 week ago
Finally! Now we’ll start making better time for sure.
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Actually though it’s still a pretty slow, rough ride as the marked bike route to Cavaillon takes me to one course, lumpy road after another.  If you’re in Cavaillon heading east, take note: the route south of the Luberon along the Durance is nothing like the blissful cruise along the Calavon Veloroute.

Truth be told, as beautiful as the foliage is today and even with the benefit of a fair tailwind I’m just not feeling that into the ride this morning.  At about ten miles the thought occurs to me that I could just turn back to Lourmarin and ask the server to pour un pression pour un person while I wait for Rachael to return to town with the only key to our apartment.

Nice to look at. Semi-paved surfaces like this have a lot of color to them.
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Keith AdamsThey are also known to provoke colorful language from cyclists.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsTrue, but this one is actually a pretty nice road. It’s solidly paved, but smeared in mostly dried mud in spots where there must have been recent flooding. We’ve seen several roads like this recently.
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1 week ago
Actually I have nothing to complain about. It’s a beautiful, serene ride on a lane I share with no one.
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 I persist though; and twelve miles into the ride I drop south out of the foothills through Merindol, cross the highway and then the Carpentras Canal, and then turn west again.  The next eight miles of the ride are a delight as I bike down a flat, empty lane alongside the train line and the canal.  The riding is enjoyable as I bike along effortlessly, slightly downhill with a mild tailwind; but it’s even better because I’m out of the woods and the landscape has opened up and given me a better view of the mountain and its limestone cliffs.

Looking up at the Petit Luberon. I’ll be enjoying views like this for the next eight miles.
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At times I bike beside the Carpentras Canal.
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At others, I’m beside the rail line that parallels it.
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Skewered. This would make a good Tarot card, a fate worse than death.
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Toward the west end of the range the escarpment becomes more rugged and exposed.
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Nearing the west end of the Luberons. Cavaillon is roughly on the other side of the range here.
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Eventually I bottom out, cross the tracks and canal again, and start climbing back into the hills as the route begins to round the western end of the range.  This would be a natural spot to turn back but I decide to continue on a ways thinking I’ll get a nice view south toward the mountains on the other side of the Durance.  I don’t get the views, but I do come to a nice open oak grove and find a rock to squat on and break out the lunch Rachael has insisted I remember to take along - a hunk of bread, some cheese, salami, a mix of cashews and dried cranberries.  A feast.

Crossing the canal again.
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Un velo et un chêne. Learning French slowly, one noun at a time. At this rate I should be reasonably fluent dans un siècle environ.
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I’ve gone a bit further than I thought I might, and considerably more slowly.  By the time I’ve polished off lunch it’s 2:30.  It’s over twenty miles back the way I came, and between the lateness of the day, the building threat of rain, the headwind I’ll face, and the thought of rerattling down some of those rough paths I decide the prudent thing is to hop on the express lane and ride the highway the whole way back.

It’s the right decision.  It’s a less pleasant ride but there’s a decent shoulder most of the way and it’s three miles shorter.  I keep as fair a pace as I ever do these days and make it back around 4:30 dry and safe, not long before the light starts to fade.  Rachael’s been tracking my progress and meets me at the door, and on the way up the stairs she starts relating the wonderful day she experienced up in the mountains.

Eastbound on the express lane.
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I’m in a hurry, but not in THAT big of one. I can pause to admire this view to the south across the Durance.
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Not the peaceful idyll I enjoyed earlier, but safe enough.
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We’ve seen a lot of views like this but I stopped for this one because I liked the way the foliage complemented the yellowish bricks. It’s not apparent unless you zoom in a bit though.
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Looking up at Lauris and its chateau.
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Ride stats today: 37 miles, 2,100’; for the tour: 1,794 miles, 99,100’

Today's ride: 37 miles (60 km)
Total: 1,794 miles (2,887 km)

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