Day -10 : Shakedown Ride - Lack of Imagination Loire Valley - Tandem Tour - July 2021 - CycleBlaze

July 3, 2021

Day -10 : Shakedown Ride

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We're lucky to have 2 tandems.  For most of our day rides at home, we ride our fancy road tandem.  But for touring, we use our Bike Friday Tandem Traveler XL.  Since we don't ride it much, I'm always a little worried about whether it's going to work.  I had spent a bit of time over the winter working on it, so I was reasonably confident.  But what matters is whether it works on the road.

We're a little more than a week out from starting our tour, so it was time to get the bike out and see what was what.  I wanted enough time so that if something went wrong, I'd be able to order parts for a fix.

The forecast called for heat and humidity.  So we were up at (for us) an early hour and on the road shortly after 0900.  Since I had disassembled and reassembled the bike since our last tour, the first 10 minutes were spent in our driveway dialing in Robin's seat height and pitch.

One thing about this bike is that it's a true touring bike.  It's not made for going fast!  We noticed that with the first few pedal strokes.  It was going to be a leisurely ride! 

We pottered through town and out into the countryside south of Limoux.   The road follows the Aude river past a roof tile factory, then turns away from the river, crosses the old train tracks, and starts winding through vineyards to the village of St. Polycarpe. 

I had never heard of this particular saint before we moved here.  I love the name - "lots of fish?"  or "seize lots of stuff?".  Evidently he's the patron saint of Toulouse, and was beatified for carrying his decapitated head in his hands while he walked down street after being executed.  People were tougher back in those days, I guess.

We stopped in front of the abbey in the village to fiddle with my seat height, and then took a left to start the climb up to the Col de St. Polycarpe.  It's not marked on any maps because it's not high enough, but the climb hits 6-7% in a couple of places, so it was a good chance to check our low gears. 

We agreed on a stately touring pace and motored to the top with no problems.  Not even panting at the top, although I was already dripping due to the high humidity.   More adjustments at the top of the little col, along with 2 pictures - one taken back to the south, and one to the north.  This is really a pretty place.

At the top of the little col looking back. Wind turbines (controversial) back there on the right side.
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And looking forward. Those are the Montagne Noire out there - north of Carcassonne.
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From the top of the col, it's a nice long descent all the way to the turn-around point.  We had beautiful views over Villar-Saint-Anselme, a tiny village just below the col.  Then down the valley on one of the few really bad pavement surfaces in our area.   After a few kilometers of vines, we slipped through the village of St. Hilaire, which has a more complete abbey than St. Polycarpe.  It's quite stunning, really.  One of the best old abbeys in this region, I think.

Unlike poor St. Polycarpe, St Hilaire appears to have lived to a ripe old age (he died in 367 AD).  The village of St Hilaire is also the traditional birthplace of "Blanquette de Limoux", a locally-made sparkling wine that pre-dates Champagne.  

We pumped up the hill past the wineries and the sports field and were on a slightly busier road out into the vines on the road to Verzeille  (maybe 1 car every 2 minutes).  Our turn-around point is a little short of Verzeille.

After the turnaround, there's a short hill where we traditionally stop for a drink.  I fiddled with the bike a bit more, and we were ready for the final run back to Limoux.  We coasted down through Pomas, then turned left to eventually join up with the Aude river again.

This is one of my favorite roads.  The road is right next to the river and is shaded by huge plane trees.   The road has no center line and traffic is minimal - there's a D-road on the other side of the river that takes all the traffic.  Just a really nice place to cruise along.

After a few minutes of bliss, we arrived at the base of the village of Pieusse, where we climbed around the outside of the old town wall and once again got to utilize our lowest gears.   Then out onto a relatively busy road past the pilgrimage church of Notre Dame de Marceille, down the big hill into Limoux, and back home. 

A successful shakedown ride.  All systems go for next week!

Today's ride: 30 km (19 miles)
Total: 30 km (19 miles)

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Rachael AndersonHow great to live in an area with such great cycling!
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2 years ago
Suzanne GibsonDitto what Rachael said, what wonderful surroundings you have. I am a bit familiar with the other side of the Montagne Noir where my sister had a house in the village of Durfort.
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2 years ago
Rich FrasierTo Suzanne GibsonI had to google map Durfort - I had no idea where it was. We've never ridden our bikes up there, but I have a tour planned that will pass close by. The Montagne Noir is a really interesting area that has a different feel than where we are. So much to explore in such a small area!
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2 years ago