Riding up from the Riviera to the head of the Grand Canyon of the Verdon at Castellane in the Préalpes of Haut-Provence. I’ve been waiting for the best weather day for a ride inland and I think I just bagged it; this was a fantastic day out, roads quiet, including almost no cyclists or motorcaravans; bright, warm enough and no wind so great views and great riding.
The road up from Le Muy works well, the Gorge du Pennafort is a treat to ride. Some pretty villages with ochre facings. The Col du Bel Homme (915 m.) is fun but not fast until after the top. Then there’s a plateau, followed by a section of the Route Napoléon (south from Castellane) which is justly famous for its sweeping curves and long gradients. I don’t know these routes so there’s also the challenge and thrill of riding in to the unknown.
The feel of this area’s the nearest I can think of to the Boonies in back-country Wyoming: long straights then a curve; farm buildings widely-separated, stuff outside to ward off evil spirits. Spent cartridge cases in the grass at the side of the road.
Much of the high plain around Canjeurs is a military training area - there’s a spooky abandoned village close to the road but it’s out of bounds to us. This is a high and arid landscape, crossed by rough tracks but I didn’t see any tanks this time.
Lunch in the square at Castellane, the Mairie flying a Ukrainian flag in solidarity. Back down to Saint-Raphaël, through the vineyards of Côtes de Provence on red rock in time for another Riviera sunset through the palm trees of Saint-Raphaël. A grilled Daurade for dinner in a pirate restaurant and, as this was the territory of the Barbary Coast pirates, finishing off with a glass of Limoncello (rum being the tipple of the Caribbean pirates).
My CBR600RR is running pretty well after its service; today’s ride finally wiped off all of both the red and the green lines on the new tyres.