Monday: Uzes to beyond Atlier. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

April 7, 2014

Monday: Uzes to beyond Atlier.

It is good to have a picnic table to eat breakfast and start the day at. Though a little cool in the shade first thing, but there isn't a cloud in the sky, so should be another fine day. Monday morning rust hour is underway. Cars and commercial vans queue and move slowly through the roundabout outside the picnic park where I've camped.

I'm on the road by eight thirty, following the sign from the roundabout for Ales. The road has a "Velo Vert" cycle-route marked at the side into Uzes where the cycle-route takes another way. The way onwards is a band of asphalt edged with broken white lines and often lined with shading canopies of tall trees. It passes through increasing undulating countryside with wooded hills and orchards and vineyards either side. Ahead there is the blue outline of distance mountains.

The D road between Uzes and Ales.
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I cover the forty kilometres by eleven, then its an awful lot of roundabouts following "Centre Ville" signs until I reach the town centre. Straightaway I see a MBK shop. The MBK I remember used to be a popular brand of bike in France, but today the bikes in the shop window are from Taiwan. Here I buy a gear cable, and after using the ATM across the street at La Posta, I set about replacing the front gear-cable which as I said is frayed, limiting me to the use of the middle chain-ring at the front.

It is lunchtime and I cycle further into the centre, where there are lots of cafes, but I want to keep my spending modest. I stop at a boulangerie for a slice of pizza. A charming woman with a twinkle in her dark eyes and beautiful raven hair serves me. Communicating with my limited French, I bask in the sunshine of her genuine warm smile and am smitten and in love as she calls after me "Bon voyage!" as I open the door to leave.

I sit on a park bench to eat my pizza slice in a garden park and watch groups of young people sit around in groups on the grass. Then later stop at a Lidl on the way out of town in the direction of Villefort, where because I'm thirsty, have a can of wheat beer on top of buying what I'll need later for dinner and breakfast.

Ales: Lunch in the park.
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I feel the weary fatigue in my legs on the long climb away from town. Now there is nothing but hills with pine forest to the side as every corner turned reveals the road forever going up. Eventually the road begins levelling out with a castles crowning the hilltop and a sign board reading "Chateau Desportes." I take a breather at a picnic table here, refreshing myself on a snickers and a can of coke. It is then a joy to descend six kilometres. And with working brakes, I can confidently let the Dawes go, though there's so little traffic on this road and the corners are well rounded, I hold the middle of the road and hardly use the brakes at all.

No longer vineyards, but wooded slopes to the side as my route climbs.
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Chateau Des Portes.
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I forgot to buy milk for my muesli in the morning, so I'm glad to see a small shop in Villefort. The woman at the cash desk in conversation with another woman, throws the three cents change at me, perhaps because, I'm only buying milk. If my basket was full of all I needed for the day instead of having patronized Lidl, it may have been a different story.

The shop in Villefort.
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My road onwards climbs and swings out of the valley to the left, then crosses a bridge and along a body of water, Lac du Villefort. It climbs gradually up a narrow gorge through the village of Atlier with grey stone houses build against the steep hillside. It is time to stop, but it is looking hard to find a place to camp as there are farms at every swing in the road, until I come to a track up to an old orchard, sufficiently hidden and away from any farmhouse.

Today's ride: 117 km (73 miles)
Total: 13,593 km (8,441 miles)

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