It’s time to leave behind all of the pretty little towns and villages and to get back to nature! OK, so I’m driving, but to be able to enjoy the great outdoors I need to drive! I am NOT going to be walking up these mountain passes, I can tell you.
Overnight I was woken a few times by the heavy rain pelting against the windows but I was very pleasantly surprised when I looked out to a relatively clear sky. No good staying in bed (even though it was only 8c and I was SO comfortable). My little trip today was to the Col du Soulor, a mountain pass of spectacular beauty and one that is a Tour de France classic, having featured in over 60 rides since 1910. I did encounter a few lycra-clad sweaty bums as I drove to the summit…not my idea of fun (either the cycling or the lycra-clad bums)!
As you can see there is little room for cars to pass and in a way I dreaded meeting a large truck, campervan or coach. Just imagine how pleased I was to come across this…..
There was absolutely nowhere to go and these two were locked together in a metallic embrace by their side lights. Although there is virtually no traffic on these roads, especially at this time of year, a small bouchon developped. A bouchon is a cork (as in wine bottle) but it is also a traffic-jam. How frustrating was this? I could see where I wanted to go but nobody was going anywhere very fast. Well, they jiggled and shuffled and shouted and looked. They climbed in and out of their cabs, the poor driver on the right having to climb the wall each time. Eventually, I don’t know how, like a cork being pulled from the bottle, they slipped by each other without incident. Perhaps they’ve done this manoeuvre before!
Onwards and upwards, with sweaty lycra once again my companion. It has been said that this is one of the most beautiful roads in the world…I don’t know about that, but it certainly has spectacular views, making driving so hard because there is something to see at every turn.
The overnight rain had fallen as snow at this altitude, and was some of the first of the season. I’d love to see it after a really good amount of snow on a crisp winter’s day.
And we’re here…at the summit of the col in glorious sunshine. 1,474 metres (4,836 feet) altitude, and just a handful of tourists.
… And down the other side.
My legs are tired now after all that pedaling! (As if).