We've had a couple of brilliant days in Marseille with clear blue skies, moderate temperatures (although the Mediterranean sun is still very strong. The new battery in my bike failed dead at the first attempt at starting so that was another day spent fault finding. But Thursday also dawned bright and clear so I set off towards Barcelonnette and the col de la Bonette.

Still clear blue skies riding up the wide valley of the river Durance. Lunchtime rush hour at Digne and then the fantastic back way to Barcelonette via the col de la Lanbouret (1240m). Onwards and passing over the col de St Jean (1333m) the to the valley of the Ubaye, the tributary to the Durance that tumbles down from Barcelonnette and the border with Italy.

Barcelonnette was hot and torrid. The clear air of the col de la Bonette beckoned. Not much traffic, neither four nor two wheels. Ascending Bonette from Barcelonette is special because it is the highest in Europe, the road carefully graded meaning that it's always a challenge but is rewarding because it offers possibilities to use the full power of the the bike. The route starts at a wide valleys and climbs a succession of hanging valleys until it reaches the barren summit, the grey friable rock having replaced the glorious colours of the lower alpine meadows. The 24km of the ascent from the North side are as challenging as thirty minutes on a track, with all the unpredictability of a public road: other motors, cyclists and even the very real possibility of a flock of sheep like every motorcyclist should always prepare for ahead.

At the summit, mostly Italian motor-bikers and German mountain-bikers. Time for some photos and to enjoy the high clear air and the unusually clear views. Then back to Marseille for a nice Mille feuilles salade and Magret de Canard outdoors in our favourite restaurant in Cours Julien.

JohnH on the Col de la Bonette