To Sainte-Enimie - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

October 19, 2022

To Sainte-Enimie

Not every day can be like yesterday’s magical ride up to the Aubrac Plateau, but today was special enough.  And challenging enough too, with maybe the most climbing on a traveling day we’ve faced since leaving  northern England.    It began with a few more miles up the Lot, with a short but steep climb not far after leaving town as we lifted ourselves over another bend in the river.  Not long especially, climbing about 800’ in four miles before dropping to the river again; but it started out with a discouraging 10% jolt that had us groaning and thinking the whole ride might be like this before it finally tapered off into a relaxed grade.

Leaving Saint-Geniez, taking the shortcut past the Marie and cloister.
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Going up, and not particularly with much enthusiasm.
Heart 6 Comment 1
Jen GrumbyIt is a lovely road, though!
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1 month ago
Enough of that. We’re back down at river level, crossing the Lot yet again. How many times does this make it? I’m pretty sure we’re up to at least twenty crossings since we first reached the river at Bouzies eight days ago.
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At the high point of this first climb, the warm-up to today’s main event.
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Saint-Laurent-d’Olt, one of the last communities of any size we’ll see before finally leaving the river.
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At Banassac we cross the Lot for the final time, stop at a picnic bench for lunch, and then start climbing.  We’ve been anticipating this ascent ever since we started biking up the Lot, crossing the high divide between it and the Tarn; but in fact it’s no big deal at all as it takes eight miles to climb 1,200 feet, never steeply enough to bring much grief to the team.  That first short climb at the start of the day was much worse.

Leaving the Lot from the upper end.
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The ride grew prettier the higher we climbed, enhanced by a brief appearance by the sun.
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I don’t know if there’ll be a summit marker at the top so I stop here for a trophy shot just in case.
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Leveling out as we near the summit.
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Laval-du-Tarn, near the summit.
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That end of the season look.
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Like a samba. Not long after this I started whistling The Girl From Ipanema and didn’t really stop until the end of the ride.
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Jen GrumbyI'm sure this field was very happy to have its own soundtrack. 🙂
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1 month ago
At the top. The world abruptly drops off just past the plowed field.
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France has so many spectacular gorges.  They’re all remarkable when I think back on the many we’ve biked through by now but the Tarn is really in a class of its own, up at the top with the incredible Grand Canyon of the Verdun.  On one level I remember how astonishing it seemed when we biked through it 25 years ago, but then again I really don’t.  It takes our breath away when we round the bend and stare down into this immense chasm, really to vast and sprawling to fully take in.  We both stop, stunned for awhile, and then begin the descent -  a comfortable 1,300’ in the next eight miles, but one that goes slowly because around every other bend I have to stop and look again.

Stunned.
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The Tarn Gorge, one of the great sights of France.
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The Tarn, 1,300’ below. Susan’s likely biking up that road next to the river, if I could see her.
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Staring down at Saint-Chely, the next village downstream from Sainte-Enimie.
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Descending to the Tarn. The road angling up the opposite slope climbs up to the Causse Méjean. If I’m lucky with weather I’ll bike up there tomorrow for a look from the other side.
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Descending to the Tarn.
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It’s been too long since we’ve had a ‘Where’s Rachael’ shot. You’re overdue for a challenge.
Heart 3 Comment 2
Keith AdamsMy money's on the turnout at the left side of the image, right where the road disappears before coming back into view in center frame.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith Adams✔️
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1 month ago
Here, of course.
Heart 4 Comment 3
Keith AdamsAnd I called that BEFORE I scrolled down to here...
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsHow could you miss her? No one else up here with an Arizona bike jersey.
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1 month ago
Keith AdamsTo Scott Anderson:)
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1 month ago
Descending to the Tarn.
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Descending to the Tarn.
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Entering Sainte-Enimie, our home for the next two nights.
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Video sound track: Flim Flam, by the Bud Shank Quartet

We told Susan we’d arrive at the hotel some time between 3 and 4 - oh, did I forget to mention we’re meeting up with Susan again, arriving on her way up the Tarn from Albi? - but it’s nearly 4 when we finally pull in because it takes nearly a half hour to coast the last five miles downhill.  When I finally arrive Rachael’s already been here for a few minutes, and Susan’s been in long enough that she’s already checked into her room and is waving out her window as I round the bend.

Like ourselves, Susan is somewhat stunned, still aglow from her own magical ride up the river.  I chide her for letting me down - at every vantage point on the descent where I could see the road I’ve been carefully casing it out hoping I could get a photo of her far below, but she apparently came through too early for that. 

There’s more to say about our first evening here and our shared dinner at a modest pizzeria, apparently  the only restaurant open this evening - but if I described it, what would be left for Susan to say?  The chivalrous thing is to stop here, so I will.

Howdy, stranger!
Heart 9 Comment 2
Kathleen JonesThis is my favoritest photo of Susan ever
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Kathleen JonesMy reaction too. I was delighted when this came off the camera. Lucky.
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1 month ago
Courtesy of Ms. Carpenter.
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Andrea BrownA happy man.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownTrue. Way luckier than I deserve.
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1 month ago
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Ride stats today: 34 miles, 2,800’; for the tour: 1,049 miles, 69,100’

Today's ride: 34 miles (55 km)
Total: 1,050 miles (1,690 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 15
Comment on this entry Comment 3
Keith ClassenWhat a ride!!! Fantastic scenery is the reward for those tough climbs.
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1 month ago
ann and steve maher-wearyWishing we were there with the three of you, enjoy! We are thinking of you dining together tonight!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo ann and steve maher-wearyI wish you were too, although it would be pretty great being there in Sarlat too.
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1 month ago