Saturday, September 18, 2021

ViaRhona - Tain l'Hermitage to Avignon

The ViaRhôna is a 500 mile bike route of greenways and shared paths which follows the the Rhône River from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean sea. On it's way it passes through Tain l'Hermitage where we were staying and I thought it would be cool to ride the 116 miles south along the trail to Avignon and Jocelyne would take a train to meet me there.

Shouldn't be too hard, flat route slowly descending with the river on a day with a following northerly breeze, average speed 15 mph with a one hour break should do it in 9 hours comfortably, leave at 7:30 am be there 4:30 pm latest. Piece of cake.

So, on a perfect Sunday morning I'm out the door at 7:30 am and with a 10 mph wind at my back I'm down the trail at 17 mph to Valence . . . where the obstacle course begins. They don't tell you about the Sunday morning farmers market which closes the route and I have to walk through it, then I'm confused by the numerous bike routes in the area all using similar signs, then I have to navigate around a huge gastronomic festival . . . but before you know it I'm across the bridge over the Rhone and back on track with an average speed of 13 mph!

The miles pass well while I am on the greenway by he river but then I'm directed to take a path with a dead end sign (stop, scratch head) and was fortunately rescued by a couple of Brits who somehow knew that a dead end sign on a bicycle path didn't apply to bicycles! The shared paths along the route turn out to be mostly farm roads which would make 209 in Marion County look good. This is interspersed by a couple of long span narrow flexible suspension bridges across the river which you wouldn't want to cross on a windy day or meet someone going the other way.

A visit to Châteauneuf du Pape seemed like a good idea in the planning stage but it added 4 miles to my route and after 103 miles it just didn't seem that important. I'd also had a flat tire and was getting tired so I was well behind schedule. And so it went. I got to Avignon with an elapsed time of just over 10 hours at 5:15 pm.

In summary - apart from my whining - the ViaRhôna is absolutely brilliant. Just do a couple of sections a day - not six like me - and take the time to drink the wine along the way.

Coda. Jocelyne brought me some real clothes, changed, saw the Palais des Papes and the Pont d'Avignon and took the train home. Every regional train has a bicycle carriage - love it - it's free and will comfortably hold a couple of dozen bikes with seating for cyclists. You just don't know at which end of the train it will be.

No comments:

Post a Comment