To Saint-Martin-d'Ardèche - You lead me away from home, just to save you from touring alone - CycleBlaze

May 8, 2022

To Saint-Martin-d'Ardèche

Yesterday at our hotel we needed to carefully consider a place to stay for the following night. Our original plan was to ride to Vallon-Pont-d'Arc which is about 30 km away and then start the ride through the Gorges  de l'Ardèche the following day. However, we considered the 30 km distance to Vallon-Pont-d'Arc to be a bit too short for a day's ride.  Perhaps we should possibly  combine the next two day rides together for a distance of 64 kilometres??  But with the known challenges of riding the Gorges de l'Ardèche would this be too much? The weather forecast was very favourable, so in the end we decided to skip the town of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc and carry on right through to Saint-Martin-d'Ardèche which we had planned as a stop two days later. A decision we hoped to not regret!

After a simple and a bit overpriced breakfast at the hotel we were rolling by 09:3o -an early start for us. But as we were uncertain as to the challenges ahead of us today,  getting a bit earlier start  would be  a good idea. The  goal was to dispatch the slightly less than 30km ride to Vallon-Pont-d'Arc in fairly quick order and then begin the main event for the day - Gorges de l'Ardèche.

Leaving Saint Vincent de Malcap we turned left and began riding  the D51 highway. It  is a larger  divided highway with a decent shoulder to ride on and the kilometres went by quite quickly. As it was also Sunday morning, the traffic was fairly light. 

Our first climb began shortly after passing through Barjac and then we gave up the elevation with a screaming downhill that took us right into the town of Salavas. As  Scott waited for Pat to appear down the hill,  it dawned on him that we need to buy some sandwiches for a picnic and it is Sunday. In France shopping on Sundays can be problem. But a block away we found an open sandwich shop on one side of the street and a coffee shop on the other. Perfect!  Two important needs met.

Looking back at Barjac as we began up a long straight hill.
Heart 3 Comment 0
On route we left the Occitanie region and entered the Rhone Alps.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Immediately we were greeted with a row of plane trees.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Pat is trying to remember to say, ¨pas de crème fouettée s’il vous plaît¨ when ordering her cappuccinos. But it is real whip cream and so good!
Heart 4 Comment 0

The sandwich shop had three ready made sandwiches on a tray in the cooler. We bought two of her last three sandwiches maybe in the nick of time. We crossed the street and had our mid morning coffee stop. After our coffee and a treat  we where on our way following the signs to Gorges de l'Ardèche. This is a very popular touristy area and there are many hotels, resorts and restaurants at this lower part of the Ardèche river. 

The low road elevation near the start of entrance to the gorges of the Ardèche.
Heart 5 Comment 0
The Ardèche is enjoyed by many kayakers. We were told that at the peak there can be 2000 kayaks in the river on a single day.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Just a perfect day to ride the Ardèche.
Heart 4 Comment 0
On a sunny Sunday in May the motorcycles are relentless on this road.
Heart 5 Comment 0

After  leaving the commercial area behind, the fun really began with a 200 metre climb over the next 4km with grades around 10% until we reached the top.  After passing the the Pont d'Arc entrance to the gorges of the Ardèche and slightly further along the road to the first lookout there were few people around and few cars on the road. But, there must have been 500 motorcycles - many using it as a race track!  After awhile, the constant sound of revving motorcycles was a  disturbance that did detract from the beauty of the river. We did witness  the aftermath of a crash and fortunately the rider appeared to be okay. But ambulance sirens indicated he was carried away.

The D290 road is about 30 km of newly paved surface. It is a tourist route with at least 20 different lookouts and as we are travelling by bike, we visited every one of them. Here is a sample of the views.

Heart 8 Comment 0
Heart 6 Comment 0
Heading up in matching his and her jerseys. Pat thinks we need these for our next tour.
Heart 4 Comment 0
That is the road way down there on the right.
Heart 3 Comment 0
and up the road goes.
Heart 3 Comment 0
View from the first look out.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Way in the top left of this picture you can see the first lookout.
Heart 3 Comment 0
At the top -- fully loaded!
Heart 6 Comment 0
Heart 3 Comment 0
Heart 2 Comment 0
Still more to go but it is a great road to ride.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Looking way down you can see the kayaks in the river.
Heart 3 Comment 0
The roadies love this road, too.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 2 Comment 0
We stopped at every lookout along the way.
Heart 5 Comment 1
ann and steve maher-wearyWhat spectacular views and a great ride.
Reply to this comment
1 week ago
Heart 5 Comment 0
Heart 2 Comment 0
The lookouts have all been recently done and the blocks make great stands for the bikes. We found very few other people when we stopped at the look outs.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Heading down now toward Saint Martin.
Heart 4 Comment 0

We rolled into Saint Martin d`Àrdéche as the bells were ring at 4pm. The total climb was 860 metres and we were tired but very satisfied. It had been a long day. We pushed our bikes through the local community as they were having a street flea market and many were out enjoying the warm afternoon. We quickly found our room for the night and headed out for an early dinner. We were wondering if you could have two favourite rides in the same week. Although this one was quite special,  Pat thinks great rides involve considerably less climbing!

Arriving in Saint Martin along the river. The roads were closed to car traffic as there was a large flea market on the street.
Heart 2 Comment 0
End of another great ride!
Heart 8 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0

Today's ride: 64 km (40 miles)
Total: 426 km (265 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
Comment on this entry Comment 0