To Narbonne - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

October 26, 2022

To Narbonne

We’re surprised this morning when we head down for breakfast and find that the table has been set for us outside on the back patio overlooking the garden and our bicycles.  The light is still fairly dim when we sit down but it’s warm enough and pleasant sipping our coffee to the sound of birds rustling in the trees.

As usual, Rachael finishes first and heads back to the room while I nurse my second cup of coffee.  So this morning she missed seeing the cat that walked in and paused by our bikes staring at me for a moment before moving on.

Another watch cat! I should look back at yesterday’s post and compare. Maybe it’s the same cat and he’s the town security guard making the rounds.
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Keith AdamsA lovely creature.
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1 month ago

It’s a fairly short, easy ride to Narbonne, but Rachael wakes up feeling chipper and suggests that I look for something longer.  Easily done, there’s a generous selection of attractive paved roads in the vicinity to choose from.  I quickly hack out an idea, it meets with approval, and gets loaded to the Garmins.

We’re starting to get packed for the road but not done yet at ten when we hear a rap on the door.  Embarrassing - we forgot to review the checkout time and had been thinking it was later.  We hustle as best we can, and ten or so minutes later we’re on the street loading the bikes.

That’s it! After two times here, we’re definitely NOT staying in Lagrasse again. At least not without checking to make sure a restaurant is open first. Or if we forget again.
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A last look back at the abbey, which we still failed to stop in at even though it’s the largest attraction here. Maybe we should come back some day after all.
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Our route has a moderate amount of climbing, nearly all front-loaded into the first fifteen miles of the ride as it crosses a series of three ridges and intervening valleys.  This is just the way we like it - get the work in early while we’re still as fresh as we’re going to be.  It’s an overcast day but still a colorful ride with the vines turning and the interesting geology showing some color.  

We start the ride following the Orbieu upriver for a few miles. Here we’re looking across the valley at the road we biked into town yesterday. I probably took a shot then of where we’re standing at the moment.
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Rachael saw a pine tree she liked and commanded a shot from the GoPro. Unfortunately I was in the frame too and spoiled the shot.
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Okay Weather Gods, what do you have in store for us today?
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Keith AdamsIt doesn't look too promising, except maybe in a Portland sort of way.
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1 month ago
Such beautiful country, such a beautiful time to be here. Maybe we should return to Lagrasse someday. It’s the natural stopover if we’re on the way back to Limoux for some reason.
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We’re back in the land of plane lanes again! I love these. Expect to see scenes like this often in the coming weeks.
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Nearing the summit of the last of the three climbs.
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Rachael of course crosses the top of the last of the three ridges before me but I quickly catch up on the descent when I find her stopped by the side of the road staring down into a rocky ravine with a thin stream trickling through it.  We don’t really know what this place is yet, but it takes us fifteen or twenty minutes to descend the next half mile because we keep stopping to look at the short but dramatic gorge we’re dropping through from a new angle.

We’re descending the short gorge below Fontjoucouse carved by the Cassié stream. It’s a striking place and the visual highlight of the day but it doesn’t even merit a mention on the map. I’m sure you could ride down a different impressive gorge every day of the year in France and still not exhaust the possibilities.
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In the Cassié gorge.
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In the Cassié gorge.
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In the Cassié gorge.
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In the Cassié gorge.
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ann and steve maher-wearyAnother gorge to check out. Beautiful pics, thanks!
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1 month ago
In the Cassié gorge, looking across at Pic Saint-Victor.
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Keith AdamsCould you tell whether that yellow scar was natural (landslide) or man-made (quarry)? Judging by the amount of fresh-looking debris on the hillside below it I'm guessing natural, and relatively recent. But the angle is odd, unless it's a trick of the camera: it looks as though the debris flowed diagonally rather than straight down slope. Odd, if correct.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsThat’s how it looks to me also - natural, recent, and odd. There’s nothing around to suggest it’s a quarry or man made. I think it just slumped and fell.
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1 month ago
In the Cassié gorge.
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In the Cassié gorge.
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For those geology whizzes out there. What is this? An eroded syncline?
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Keith AdamsWhat's the material? If sedimentary, it's unlikely to have been deposited in that orientation so some sort of eroded fold would be a good guess. If igneous it could be a volcanic intrusion, I suppose. Can't really tell from this one photo, though.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsI’m not even an amateur geologist, but to me these looks like the resistant sedimentary beds of a severely dipped and folded syncline.
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1 month ago
Keith AdamsTo Scott AndersonThat's certainly not unreasonable.
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1 month ago
Rich FrasierI'm not a geologist either, but my understanding is that most of our rock around here is sedimentary. Limestone, marble, etc. Used to be the bottom of the sea-bed in ancient times.
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1 month ago
Kathleen ClassenAnd I didn’t even know what a syncline is! Had to look it up.
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1 month ago

“We’re really on the road less traveled!” I hear an enthusiastic voice call out from behind me as we’re briefly on a poorly maintained, semi-paved shortcut lopping off the end of a triangle near Montséret.  Then, literally only seconds later: a dull whump, immediately followed by a call for help.  She’s hit a patch of gravel and gone down, painfully from the sound of it. 

Not even pausing to consider getting out the camera for a photo, I quickly ditch my bike on the shoulder of the road and go back to help her out, starting with getting her own bike out of the road before returning to assess the damage.  It’s obviously painful but relatively minor as far as these things go - it’s just road rash and minor bruises thankfully, but she’s got a gash on her right knee bad enough that it takes some gingerly cleanup work to remove the debris followed by application of Neosporin, a bandage and tape to protect it.

It’s stiff and sore and the bandage is a hindrance to biking smoothly, but it’s thankfully not a barrier to continuing the ride; and it’s also a blessing that the bike came through unscathed.    We stop for lunch at the first village we come to, Saint-André-de-Roquelongue and then ride the rest of the way to the outskirts of Narbonne without incident.  Lucky.

Lunch and recovery stop, Saint-André-de-Roquelongue. As always, Rachael is perfectly attired for the setting: jacket matches the shutters, adhesive tape matches the shoelaces.
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ann and steve maher-wearyGlad to hear you are okay.
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1 month ago
Rich FrasierNot fun, but you're able to ride. That's good! Hang in there!
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1 month ago
Kathleen ClassenOh my goodness. Another reason for me to dislike loose gravel. Like riding on marbles. So glad you are okay.
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1 month ago
Rachael AndersonTo Kathleen ClassenI’m fine!
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1 month ago

Narbonne sprawls for several miles on the north, and there’s no really good access by bike from the northwest unless you add a couple of miles and detour to the bike path on its northeast side.  If you come this way, it’s definitely worth the added distance.  It’s a pleasant, paved (even though RideWithGPS thinks it isn’t) cycleway that drops us into a residential neighborhood a mile from the core.

What is this - the fourth time we’ve been to Narbonne?   the fifth?  Somehow it keeps getting stitched into yet another Team Anderson itinerary.  And no wonder - its historical center along the Rabine Canal has a delightful ambience that we’re happy to see again.  If it weren’t for the dreaded tramontana winds that apparently besiege the region in the winter months it’s a place we might be tempted to call home.

Dropping into Narbonne from the northeast.
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Video sound track: Dolomites Dance, by Ralph Towner

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Ride stats today: 39 miles, 2,200’; for the tour: 1,243 miles, 79,900’

Today's ride: 39 miles (63 km)
Total: 1,243 miles (2,000 km)

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