9 days, 4350 miles, 1 girl, 1 motorbike – Pyrenees and Alps – Part 4
19/06/2016 – day 5
Beziers – Viaduct de Millau – Montpellier – Aix-en-Provence – Verdon Gorge – Cagnes-sur-Mer
Woke up early in the morning. Before I set off I needed to clean and lube the chain on my bike, as the last time when I done it it was in Pau so really needed to do this now. Once done, it was time to stop at the nearest petrol station as my fuel gauge was flashing for quite a long time already a night before, get the fuel and head towards Viaduct de Millau.
At first there was nothing much interesting, then the closer I was getting to the Viaduct the scenery was also getting more interesting and ride was getting more exciting. Went through the viaduct, excited, but I thought it would have been better (I think it’s just because when I looked at the pictures in google earlier I seen all these professional pictures with clouds or mist below the bridge that it looked as if it was “in the sky”, while when I was there, there were no clouds and it was clear so it wasn’t as much breathtaking as on the pictures I seen), it was still worth going there through. Went through the bridge, stopped at the car park and turned back, started heading towards Montpellier.
From Montpellier on the roads were pretty boring (motorways), I was absolutely boiling in my leathers, it must have been around 35-40 degrees, traffic was bad and there were many roadworks with bad road surface that I could only go less than half the normal speed that I would normally do on a motorway (plus temporary slow speed limit). These roadworks and bad traffic slowed me down a lot, but finally started getting closer to the Verdon Gorge.
Ride through the Verdon Gorge, one of the most beautiful river canyons in Europe that is 25km long and up to 700 meters deep, was the most exciting in this trip so far. It was amazing, the water was so blue and views were breathtaking.
Stopped in Sainte-Croix-du Verdon. It was so warm I couldn’t keep riding in all my leathers, so took jacket off and strapped it to my bike. Then the ride through the canyon started. It was amazing, clear sky not a single cloud. After a while however, really dark sky appeared on one side, and while it was still far away, I was actually getting closer and closer to this dark sky. On one side it was clear blue sky and on another side dark clouds. As I was getting closer to it it was getting darker and darker, I was thinking ‘what’s there?, am I actually going to ride through this or is road going to take me somewhere else?’, it sort of looked like the end of the world, it looked so dramatic and the closer I was getting the more dramatic it looked.
Clear blue sky disappeared, and when I got into this ‘dark place’ it didn’t look as dark as it looked from the distance. I pulled over, and as I found on soon later, it was a really big mistake that I didn’t put my waterproofs on. I kept riding, sky was grey but didn’t rain yet. And then at some point torrential hailstorm with torrential rain started. I was all soaked through within few seconds. I couldn’t stop there, and when I eventually found a place to stop there was not much point in putting waterproofs on but I have put them on anyway. Luckily enough the hailstorm and rain ‘only’ stayed on for 15 minutes on so, luckily as, well, 15 minutes is not much but if only few seconds was enough for me to get all soaked through, 15 minutes was actually a lot.
Anyway I wasn’t the only one that got soaked, as right in front of me there was a car (with British plates) with open roof…
Anyway I kept riding through the rest of the canyon with not much sun, more sun started appearing towards the end of the ride. I stopped at some point to find a hotel but couldn’t find the signal, so I had to keep going. Stopped in some small town at the end of the canyon, and had to take my waterproofs off as it was so warm again that I was boiling again. Booked the hotel which was in Cagnes-sur-Mer and went there. I ws struggling to find the hotel, but eventually found it. There was no reception, just door bells and a list of names. I didn’t know which one to press, but as someone was coming out I asked them how do I check in and they took me to the correct apartment. It turned out that a woman around 50 years old was living there and she was renting a room, so I was in that apartment with her. She was really nice, kept asking if I want something to drink, made me a tea but I was so tired I just wanted to lie on bed.
I was hungry though, so after I brought my luggage to the apartment and got changed in normal clothes, went back to my bike and rode to McDonalds. Had food, rode back, went to bed, looked at map to see where to go tomorrow and went to sleep.