May 7, 2015

Gorges de la Nesque

The dynamic that changes my days, one way or the other, all of my days, on or off a bike, the one most powerful aspect: rhythm. If it's on, things.... whatever the heck the things are, move along smoothly, flow, take care of themselves.. When it's not, well, something or the other will happen, but what...who knows.

Rhythm, especially in cycling. Hand in hand with pace. Find a smooth rhythm, settle into a comfortable pace, and tout d'un coup, suddenly...I find myself with time to look around, energy to smell the world I travel through, ideas for interacting with the time, the place, the culture that I am in.

Driven by the moment, or caught up in an endurance battle, this doesn't happen to me. At work, one interruption after the other can develop a rhythm, a pace and stuff gets done. Or those interruptions can become a series of nuisances, distractions. Similar thing on the bike. On the bike, on the road, I find a pace, a rhythm, and the climbs disappear into great views, the descents into sweeping curves, the flats into reveries. Without pace, without rhythm, it becomes a long grueling slog. An endurance test. With rhythm, on the bike, at work, endurance follows along.

How clearly I remembered this yesterday: Gorges de la Nesque, south of Bedoin. The road climbs along and above the Nesque River, though I never much saw it. My day's ride started in Bédoin, and was quite nice, if nothing wildly special, south to Villes-sur-Auzon. From there it was spectacular. My energy level, distressingly low, found an appropriate rhythm, and the day came together.

Especially at the beginning, the sides of the road are manicured in a park-like fashion I rarely see here.

It climbs gradually, past dramatic rock outcroppings, gently, evenly uphill to a belvedere with gorgeous views.

Towards the top four short, sweet tunnels hurried my way along uphill. The descending road disappears into one in a photo below.

There were very few cars, not even many motorcycles, perhaps no trucks. There were lots of bikes, carrying all kinds of people. I loved the ride, found a rhythm, a pace, stopped for photos, and climbed.

Lunch was a sandwich at the view point, eaten while chatting with four French hikers who had walked from a nearby gite. They were fun, flattering, asking me questions, including the very direct one of my age! They were, I suspect somewhere about the same.

Once again, as it has all week, the summit of Ventoux towered above all else. You can see it above these descending riders.