Day 8 : Downpour and Gorges du Verdon
This part of our story is written by Bart.
That night I had slept well, and I didn't hear the cat again. I woke up to the sound of thunder. It was utterly clouded and more dark clouds were coming in. Every ten seconds we heard thunder, toward the west lightning was striking. The storm seemed to drift toward the west instead of in our direction. Still, I quickly packed all my gear as packing everything in the rain is horrible. Bram had also woken up but didn't realize it was still early. Otherwise he had wanted to sleep for another hour, but now we were up at 8.
We cycled back to the main village. There we would be on the 100 cols route again, and all we needed to do was follow the signs towards the Gorges du Verdon. First, we had an easy climb while it increasingly looked like it was going to rain. It reminded me of last year when we cycled in the middle of a thunderstorm. Just before we reached the next village it started to drizzle.
In the village was a Vival supermarket, where we bought groceries. Outside were some elderly people looking very confused at us cycling in this weather. It was only a tiny store, but they sold baguettes and jam, which was all we needed. The lady had registered everything and I was ready to pay when the electricity went out. Lightning had struck somewhere nearby and the checkout had stopped working. A while later, everything was powered again so we could pay. Meanwhile it had stopped drizzling and started to rain hard. We still wanted to put our jackets on and leave as long as the rain didn't get worse.
Before we had put all our groceries on our bikes some torrential downpour started and a small river was forming on the road. It was constantly thundering and lightning so we decided to take shelter in the store for a while. While we were inside the power went out three more times.
According to Bram the lady in the store looked worried when we left in the rain. The men in the bar looked like we were crazy. We still needed to do a decent before reaching Gorges du Verdon. With all the rain that was not super safe, my brakes weren't working well and it seemed like there was a layer of soap on the road. Via a climb to a nice village we passed the lake where the Verdon river ends up in.
The lake at the end of the Gorges du Verdon
After some more climbing we took these pictures:
In the Verdon you could ride pedal boats, which seemed a nice way to explore the river.
It became increasingly warmer after the morning's rain.
The canyon of the Verdon is up to 400 meters deep.
There was a dedicated viewpoint. It was called 'the sublime point' but wasn't all that special.
The sublime view
A while later my bike felt strange. My luggage carrier was broken at the point where it connected to the main frame. I could continue, but it needed to get fixed soon. We hadn't brought rope, tie-wraps, or duct tape. A while later we found some string along the road, which I used to fix the carrier as well as possible.
The fix with the rope
After Gorges du Verdon we came to another valley, which was less deep.
During the evening we climbed col de Buis. It was very steep, but the descent was more difficult than the climb. The road was littered with holes and bumps. It was so steep that we rode 60 km/h within seconds. We constantly needed to brake and pay attention, my rims were hot at the end.
View from col de Buis
The steep meandering road
After col de Buis followed another steep climb, then a nice descent towards Entrevaux. This village was built along a river, and a castle was on top of the adjacent hill. From the village ran a steep road upwards. We bought some food and obtained a stamp. It was busy because there was a medieval festival going on. Our intended campsite was in the next village. After racing 7 kilometers downstream we arrived.
Today we were lucky because we would arrive at a campsite early for a change. It was only 8 o'clock. In the village were no signs indicating where the campsite would be. Two old men told us there was no campsite, but there was one in the town we came from. We didn't believe them because the route description said it would be here. We cycled around, hoping to find a map or sign, but there were none. We asked some old ladies for directions, they also said the campsite was about 7 km in the other direction.
It was still early, so we decided to cycle back instead of camping in the wild. We raced back to the village, now going 30 km/h upstream. We found a sign saying the campsite was 4 kilometers further upstream. After asking for directions again, we found the right road. After 150 km, we could surely cycle those extra four. We crossed the bridge and then cycled another two kilometers downstream. That was an additional 13 km just to find the campsite, and tomorrow we would have to cycle all of those again just to get back to where we already were.
Finally, we reached the campsite. It was 9 o'clock by now. The campsite was filled with Dutch people who started talking to us before we stepped off our bikes. At the front desk the owner came up to us.
'Hi, do you have a place for us?' we asked
'No , were are full' said the owner
At first I thought he was making a joke, just like the French owner on our way south.
'We are really full', he said 'didn't you see the sign?'
Later we noticed a piece of paper near the entrance saying 'complet'. The campsite was already overflowing and more people had made reservations to arrive.
'Where do you come from?' he asked
'From that town with the double name, 10 kilometers away'
'There is another campsite 10 kilometers upstream' the man said
'But we already made a 13 kilometer detour and it is 9 o'clock'
I told him that if there really were no free spots we would take a swim in the lake and then continue along the route.
The camping owner went to check if there really wasn't a free spot for us. The volleyball field was still free so we were allowed to stay there. We thanked him and put up our stuff. The other half of the field was already taken. During the evening we saw a firefly, every time we moved it would light up. There was a terrace but there was not much to do. On a public computer we looked up how steep the Alpe d'Huez is, which we planned to climb on our 'rest day'. We also left a message in the guestbook of our website.
'Hi, everyone. We are now at a supposedly full campsite, but because we already took a 13 km detour and another campsite seized to exist we were allowed to stay. My (Bart's) luggage carrier is broken on one side, but we repaired it with a piece of rope we found on the side of the road. Bram's head still has a somewhat normal shape. Now we are going to sleep and tomorrow we will climb the Bonnette and another high mountain while cycling 160 km. After another two days of cycling we might take a day off, but then we will still climb the Alpe d'Huez. Within an hour according to Bram. Bye everyone'
Then we went to sleep.
Distance cycled: 160 km.