Ax Les Thermes to La Fuste
Determined to find a way to follow the most interesting route without having to resort to map reading, I spent about thirty minutes at breakfast programming in gps points this morning. It was worthwhile. For over 160 miles I rode on amazingly twisty roads with near perfect Tarmac and hardly a car in sight. Brilliant. That 160 miles took longer than 500 would in Saudi Arabia, but there I count bends, here straights. A trip from al Khobar to the UAE can be done in less than 10 bends I think, and that’s if you include turns. Yesterday I counted two straight sections of road, both less than 100m in length.
One of the passes I crossed today had an unreasonably steep descent. There were so many hairpins in quick succession, each of which I had to take in first gear, that I stopped to take s screenshot of my gps. Whoever decided that it was reasonable to put a road here was either brilliant or mad. I’d like to bring some Nepalese road engineers here to show them what is possible with simple technology and without destroying the surrounding landscape.
I’d passed by on part of this route before with David Churches, but I only had a dim memory of the route. I remembered the cafes though and Dave’s predilection for Coca-Cola and nicotine gum. Last year the temperatures were in the high thirties and low forties; today it was only 28° and yet the Tarmac was still melting. I wonder if the composition of Tarmac used in Saudi Arabia is much more expensive? It doesn’t melt there, although I do remember a large speed bump that was placed near my house that spread itself across the road like melting ice cream one summer.
I thought I had a flat tyre just after lunch. The back wheel seemed a little twitchy. I stopped and checked it though and it was OK. The road at that point was covered in tar snakes and had hidden areas of subsidence that were hard to spot in the bright sunshine; disconcerting to ride on.
It took me while to find La Fuste, a beautiful log cabin set on a clearing above the woods just outside Brusque and up a long, steep gravel drive. Google maps is excellent but sometimes it gets the placement of things wrong. I called at two likely looking houses before hitting on the right place. La Fuste is a wonderful place, so calm and peaceful.