Hyeres - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

November 10, 2018

Hyeres

We’re still a bit under the weather, but we’re being lucky with the timing.  The worst of the rains yesterday came early in the morning and then again in the evening.  This morning it’s still lightly raining when we awaken, but it’s dry when we check out of our hotel with the rains not forecast to return until end of day again.  Looking ahead, tomorrow is forecast as wet all day; but beyond that it looks like the pattern is ending, with ten straight dry days projected.

As Rachael regularly reminds me, weather forecasts are predictions, not factual assertions.  We don’t know that it will stay dry all day, even if we are hopeful. We decide the prudent thing is to make good time and arrive in Hyeres early.  We inform tonight’s hotel that we will arrive between 2 and 3, and then wheel our bikes from the garage. 

A mere 15 minutes later, we start biking.  In the meantime, we make the annoying discovery that we forgot to load the day’s route onto our Garmins and then after several frustrating failures finally succeed in getting them loaded.  In the meantime, we watch the skies to the west grow unsettlingly darker.  Not the ideal way to start when you’re in a hurry.

Looking across the bay, a window of sun shines down on Saint-Tropez.
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A mile out of town, we come to the start of a paved bike path.  It’s in fine condition, and will carry us nearly all the way to Hyeres with occasional breaks.  Most of today’s ride will be on either separated bike path or light traffic residential streets.  At its best, this makes for idyllic riding - quiet, safe, green.  Throughout the day we’ll alternately bike through pine woods, scruffy oak forests, small vinyards, beneath aisles of plane trees, or beside the sea.  Very nice.

The bike route to Hyeres. When it was good, it was very, very good.
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At Port Grimaud, crossing the tiny La Giscle River.
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As I said though, the bike Route is not unbroken.  After Port Grimaud we come to one of its breaks.  We have a choice of getting onto the coast road for a mile, or improvising on a bit longer route through the farming roads that look like they will connect up again before long.  Rachael votes to go on the road, but I talk her out of that tame plan and opt for something a bit more adventurous.

A bit too adventurous, as it turns out.  After a half mile, the pavement ends; and after another half, the dirt road ends at the edge of a cornfield.  We could turn back, but our GPS shows a dotted route across the field to the pavement, only a few hundred yards beyond.  At this point, of course we should plow on.

Off the grid
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If we’d zoomed in just a bit further, we might have noticed that there’s a small break in the line of the path.  We find it, at a small gully and stream.  There are four stepping stones in the creek, so if we’re careful we can make it across without dumping ourselves or our bikes and gear in the creek or the muddy banks.  With the pavement now only about a hundred feet beyond, of course we should go forward.

It’s a bit of a tense portage.  I carry the bikes as I step across the stones, but it’s too precarious to do without help.  Rachael comes behind, holding up the rear of the bike each step of the way as I stabilize myself and advance to the next stone.  When we’re safely over and soon back on the pavement again, I give Rachael credit for being 10% right in her vote to take the high and dry road.  Only 10% though, because 90% of the low route was just fine.

We’re across!
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I’m not sure, but it looks to me like this is a parasol mushroom (macrolepiota procera), a prized edible as long as you cook it.
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Bill ShaneyfeltDoesn't look like death angel, but I would not touch it! In the mid-70s, I spent 2 years in Germany and a local I worked with taught me around 10 edibles, but that was long ago, and in Germany.

He said "You can eat all mushrooms... Some... Only once!"
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltYou’re right. I researched it a bit myself, and it looks like a large parasol mushroom (macrolepiota procera).
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1 month ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Scott AndersonThat's what Herr Bohn called the ones I remember. They were pretty big as I recall.
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1 month ago

Back on pavement again, we enjoy a lovely ride for about the next several miles, crossing over the low neck of a promontory.  It’s a bit early when we come to Cavalaire-sur-Mer, but it’s inviting enough that we decide to stop here for lunch, enjoying our bread, Emmentaler cheese and turkey and staring at the sky and the sea.  We look a bit sceptically at the clouds above the next headland, hoping our weather holds for the rest of the ride.

The canopied pines on the ridge to the south are beautiful, radiant in the sun.
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Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! We biked through miles of oak forests today, crushing acorns beneath our tires. I wonder if Schwalbe Marathons are lab tested for their acorn shell resistance.
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Lunch on the beach, Cavalaire-sur-Mer
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Interesting clouds to the west. Things could go either way.
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After lunch we pick up the pace a bit.  We still have about twenty miles to go, and it’s after noon already.  We’re back on the good bike path for awhile, until suddenly we aren’t.  The marked path continues, but is no longer paved.  It’s pretty though, with occasional views to the sea, a few unlit but short tunnels, and more beautiful forests.  This slows us down a bit at first, until the trail worsens, turns a bit muddy, and slows us down more.  Until it worsens still more, comes to a small rockslide that we walk/carry the bikes through, and finally comes to a concrete barrier we have to cross by removing the bags and lifting the bikes up and over.

The rest of the ride goes quite quickly.  After another two miles of dirt road we come back to pavement again, and have a fast run the rest of the way.  We’re an hour late arriving, which is fine - once it was apparent that we were running late we gave our apartment a call to let them know.

We wonder how bad this could get, as the canyon narrows and the road surface gradually degrades.
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We’re working our way along the face of a headland, with occasional views out to the sea.
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This isn’t too bad here, but in places the puddles spanned the whole trail and we walked through the brush and wheeled the bikes through the muddy water.
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Unlit, unpaved, damp, muddy. Not one of our favorite tunnels, but fortunately it’s short.
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The ride to Hyeres: and when it was bad, it was horrid.
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Jen GrumbyHere's to your perseverance! Perhaps a bit annoying en route, but makes for crisp memories and a great story!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyDon’t tell Rocky, but I plan out days like this. Always looking for a bit of drama in the journal on a slow news day.
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1 month ago
Finally we come to something more road-like again, but won’t return to the pavement for another few miles yet.
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Bruce LellmanIt's great that you are being so adventurous.
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1 month ago
Another good habitat for mushrooms. We haven’t seen this for about a month.
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Bill ShaneyfeltPretty! But a rule of thumb is, "colorful is poisonous."
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1 month ago
This is a younger instance of same mushroom we saw earlier in the day (presumably a parasol mushroom).
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Nearing Hyeres, only about an hour late. We’ll arrive dry though, so we’re content.
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I love coming to this road, with its graceful colonnade of plane trees. This is one of my favorite features here in the south.
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Our apartment is a bit of a museum piece. The owners appear to like objects d’art, and red.
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Ride stats today: 40 miles, 1,900’

Today's ride: 40 miles (64 km)
Total: 2,326 miles (3,743 km)

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Scott FenwickGarmin – the trouble they cause. We like to blame "him" when a routing goes sideways. We were caught a few times with maps showing these tracks as “roads” in France. One day in particular my route planning confidence took a serious hit. I am sure you were questioning yours a bit as well on this day.

Your pictures tell a thousand words. The always smiling and unflappable Rachael - not so much on the portage? I can now understand why the narrow gap between the two concrete barriers was also blocked with a massive boulder! Glad you made it through safely and dry – best of all.
Great to follow your tour.

Scott and Pat
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Scott FenwickWell, no - I can’t say I questioned my routing choices all that much today. A bit of adventure as good for you and keeps you young, right? Although Rachael had her own thoughts on the matter. It’s funny about the portage shot - I almost commented on her focused expression myself.

Great to have you following along. We both feel so lucky to be doing this, and are glad to be sharing the experience.
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1 month ago