Fri 12 Jun 2009 08:10 BST
This is a pro bike race, and despite the name, it is actually a week-long stage race, not unlike a mini Tour de France. And, because the organisers, backed by the larget local newspaper, are bright thinkers and cycling-savvy, they wait until the Tour de France organisers announce their route (in the October prior to the following July) before announcing theirs. This allows them to then include various key climbs that the big boy's race will use, as well as similar time trial (TT) courses. The end result is; all the teams and riders who want to do well at the Tour de France turn up at this little race for last minute preparation. And it's always on our doorstep.
So, having a little gap between guests, we packed up a bit of camping stuff, the bikes and some swimming trunks and headed over to take a look at the TT stage which was due to take place in the (beautiful) countryside east of Valence. Helyn, organised as ever, had found a great little campsite (with a pool) really close to the route and had printed out maps and times for the riders' passage, as well as a couple of baby cols for us to ride en route too!
We left home about ten and were at the campste by twelve and one thebikes by one. Up over the cols du Tourniol ( a beauty) and Limouches (easier) and popped out onto the TT route near a village called Charpey. The riders were on a slight uphill and really close by too, so we took lots of pics. Click on the link to have a look:
Criteruim du Dauphine Libere 2009 photos in our web gallery
We then rode through stunning scenery back to the campsite, hopped in the pool to cool off, then ate a huge bowl or red pasta and promptly fell asleep. Luckily, we'd remembered to order croissants and bread which were delivered by a suitably portly baker (it's always reassuring to see people who make food enjoying their own work), so we ate heartily before heading over to take a look at Pont en Royans, a beautiful little town right on the edge of the Vercors, a mass of house perched above a river on rock faces - stunning. And we saw it at a great time of year - it has "tourist trap" written all over it come July and August!.
Back home to reality via the supermarket. Good news: we have my favourite cyclo randonee this weekend in the Chartreuse (the BRC it's called) so we'll be back on our bikes soon enough!.
Guy & Helyn