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French Ride Three: Going long – August 22nd

On an early holiday adventure we’d driven to Dijon and I’d noticed a hill on the way out of Vitteaux on the D26 – which I thought looked really good. After a busy day with the kids on the 21st we were having an easy day at our rented holiday house so it was the perfect time for me to venture a bit further from base on the bike.

I was enjoying the hills I’d climbed to date so I simply changed the direction of the climbs but also headed further out to Vitteaux so I could ride up the hill I’d seen earlier.

I started by heading out to the D905 which is the main road between Montbard and Vitteaux. I then took the first turning to the left sign posted for Flavigny and climbed my way up to the medieval town. Oddly just near the top someone had spray painted “Australia for Ever” across the middle of the road – not something I had expected to see. As I got to the village I rode past a young priest out for a run in his robes. I’d been softened up to a sight like that as a few days before I saw a young priest out for a ride on a road bike also in full robes. Not something I’d seen before – but good on them for getting out and keeping fit. After I’d said Bonjour to the priest I was onto the descent that I’d previously climbed and very quickly was at the valley floor, turning right towards Jailly-les-Moulins.

Here I made my first faux pas on the road by turning right and heading off down the left hand side of the road for about 30 metres before I realised my error and moved back to the correct right hand side.

At Jailly-les-Moulins I climbed the road I’d descended previously and it was a tough climb – about 3-4kms but much steeper than I’d expected. I was in my granny gear and at a couple of points wondered if I might have to walk. A wonderful thing about Look pedals is that they are truly awful to walk on, so there was no way I was going to stop – I had no choice but to huff and puff my way to the top, which I eventually did.

Just after Dampeirre-en-Montagne there is a crossroads in some fields and I took the road straight ahead that I thought was in the general direction of Vitteaux. It actually took me down through Villeferry on the D905 and was a terrific descent – a great if narrow road, lovely and winding through beautiful  countryside and no traffic at all. Not one car. A couple of hairpin bends near the bottom were very tight and very steep  but it was great fun.

It had started to rain by this point and I was a bit worried about my iPhone getting wet so I thought I’d press onto Vitteaux find somewhere to text my wife that I was switching off my phone before carrying on. Coming into Vitteaux I had an excellent near miss with an old boy in a Citroen C5. I was on the main road and he was coming onto the road from my right and he didn’t think he needed to give way so didn’t. Things got a bit close for a moment, I was doing about 35kmh and ended up squeezing through a gap between him and an oncoming car and I ended up in front (he had to have breaked) but much horn tooting ensued.  He passed me safely a few hundred metres later and gave me another does of horn tooting to which I smiled at him and shook my head. As the foreigner, I guess I was probably in the wrong and next time I think I’ll take the more defensive approach and let the car go first. Fortunately no harm was done to either party.

So anyway after sending my text and switching off my phone under a large tree out of the rain. I rode up the hill out of Vitteaux. It wasn’t that long 2-3km but it was steepish and much busier with cars. Once I got to the top I had about a 4km descent to Villy-en-Auxois. It was another lovely descent but not quite as good as the last one as the road was a lot bumpier.

At Villy-en-Auxois, I turned left onto the D9 and back towards Jailly-les-Moulins once again. The rain stopped and I was riding along at a decent if not spectacular pace (about 35kmh on the flat) and I was watching my heart rate to try to keep the effort moderate rather than high. Earlier in the ride I’d seen that my heart rate was generally above 150bpm which is fine but it’s a higher tempo ride and I am on holiday.  So I tried to drop it down to 140bpm which I couldn’t seem to manage (especially on the hills).

The rain stopped and my Garmin watch was telling me that I’d be at about 60km when I got home if I kept going the same way. I decided that this wasn’t far enough so once I’d climbed half way up the hill back into my “home” village I turned right and ran down the other side of the hill towards Darcey. At Darcey I veered left back up the hill and over towards Bussy-le-Grand, which was another nice climb on mostly empty roads.

At Bussy-le-Grand, I turned left and rode the short distance back to Venarey-les-Laumes and then back to Alise-Ste-Reine and up the Paris Roubaix surfaced road that our house was on. The last climb was tough – partly because of the road surface but I was also starting to feel pretty tired. My heart rate passed 170bpm on the final climb and I was pleased to get off of my bike at the top.

A great ride though – 82.49km in 3 hours 6 minutes.

Thanks for reading.