‘Un petit tour’ – cycling from the Alps to the Mediterranean, via Ardèche and Provence

In an hour or so I will start cycling solo from the Alps region where I live to the Mediterranean. Along the way I will cycle through the contrasting landscape of Ardèche, through the red earth and tall plane trees of Provence, and end the trip at the wide flat salt plains and lagoons of The Camargue on the South coast. I’m carrying everything I need on a specially equipped touring bike, including my stove, tent and sleeping bag. It will take a few days and 400 or so kilometres.

It’s not an impressive trip especially: Googling ‘bicycle touring’ will quickly reveal the trials of those cross the globe on two fragile-looking wheels, perhaps circumnavigating more than once. One man quit his job, packed up and left home several years ago to embark upon a perpetual world tour, never to return (at least, not yet). Some people might cycle this distance in a couple of days. So, relatively speaking, it’s not ground-breaking. But it is for me. Besides, this trip is the beginning, not the end: I am certain there will be more to come. So I consider this a trial run of sorts: will I like it? Will it like me?

Which begs the question – why bicycle touring? In short, I might not get another chance like this. I have some free-time at the moment, so it’s opportune. I also want to get to know France, and in particular the places I am visiting, in the kind of depth that only the immersive, slow-paced approach a bicycle offers. I want to improve my French; and hopefully meet some interesting people, too – bicycle touring seems to dissolve social boundaries, it’s a good conversation starter. What’s more, I’m obsessed by cycling. It will be a pleasure to be on the road for so long in France, this ‘spiritual home’ of the bicycle (if I still think the latter after this tour I will judge it a success).

I am going to be blogging each evening and Tweeting along the way, technology permitting, with updates (although there will be no photos until the end of the trip since I don’t have the suitable doohickey at the moment). So, bye for now and I hope for a ‘bon voyage’.

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