One of the amazing so-called “balcony” roads carved into the mountainside in France. The Vercors region around Grenoble has quite a few, but there are two on opposite sides of Bourg d’Oison that are not to be missed. The first is the “tunnel” road up to Villard Notre Dame, opposite the side of Alpe d’Huez. We rode that two years ago, and it was spectacular!
Shown here is D211A, on the Alpe d’Huez side, and actually intersects the Alpe d’Huez at La Garde, about a third of the way up (right at the infamous Dutch Corner). It’s incredibly disorienting to look over the edge, or even just to see the town of Bourg d’Oison a couple thousand feet below you! –Mike–
First real ride in France down, and a very good thing we got out there. Can you say HOT? This is the South of France, and it’s both hot and windy, the sort of conditions that suck the moisture out of everything, especially you. Which was a bit of a problem for the first half of our ride, because I didn’t think about the fact that Kevin drinks water on a “schedule” which normally means he drinks a lot more than me (I typically don’t drink enough). Today, I went through water almost twice as fast as Kevin, and didn’t realize it until we arrived in Orange, where he felt really bad and had his second seizure of the ride (he’d earlier had one on a not-much-fun busy 4-lane highway where there was fortunately a guard rail that he could hide behind so people didn’t think he was injured and start pulling over to help).
If it’s hot, drink lots of water. If it’s windy, drink lots of water. If it’s both hot and windy, you really need to watch things carefully and plan on some extra stops along the way. In the SF Bay Area, these aren’t conditions we see very often, if ever. Very good thing we saw them here, today, before taking on something really challenging and stupid, like Mont Ventoux tomorrow.
Aside from the water issue, which we addressed appropriately on the second half of the ride, it was really nice getting out there today and seeing some different things. I’d wanted, for years, to see the Roman amphitheater in Orange, so that was our destination. Of course, I didn’t think about bringing a lock & cable for the bikes so we could actually see it; we just got to tour the outside. It looks impressive though, so I guess we have to come back here sometime. Orange actually seems like a pretty nice place to stay, definitely preferable to a crowded place like Avignon that isn’t so easy to get around and is kind of industrial once you’re outside the old city walls.
If you look at the Strava map, you’ll see an interesting little jog which was not intentional, but a result of misreading (or not really being able to read at all) my Garmin’s display. Not a bad diversion though; pretty countryside, nice roads. There are definitely more-scenic and less-busy routes to & from Orange than we took though! Specifically, avoid D907 if at all possible. There’s nothing nice to say about it, and there are plenty of alternatives in the area. In our area, the closest thing to it might be Central Expressway. Sure, it will get you there, but it’s not something you’d ever look forward to unless you were in a real hurry and had to take the shortest route. But if life is that much of a bother to you, something you have to hurry through that much, I suspect you’d be in a car and not out riding a bike.