The Lot River Vallee In All It’s Glory

Before I describe my great and rather long day or riding (75 miles, I think), here’s something fascinating that happened yesterday…

I was heading toward the bridge into Touzac, and noticed a truck stopped at the end of the bridge. It appeared to be stuck. And it was stuck.

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The truck is long and wide; the end of the bridge is narrow and there’s a sharp left turn. Impossible! The geometry just doesn’t work. The guy was out of the cab, walking around and back and forth, measuring stuff, talking on his phone, looking at angles, contemplating his next move.

“There’s no way he’s getting this around this corner,” I said to myself. “This truck is stuck there forever and will become a famous tourist spot.”

The guy finally got back into the cab, backed up a foot or two, moved forward a foot or two, turning as he inched forward, backed up, moved up, backed up and so on until … voila! He did it. Amazing. This was some amazing truck driving. If it had been me driving that truck; I would have started crying and given up.

OK, so today’s ride was from Fumel all the way east along the Lot River Vallee to Cahors (the major city on the Lot) and then about 30 Ks further east to just below St Cirq, a famous town ensconced in the cliffs along the Lot.

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The first 80 Ks to Cahors were a very nice, pleasant ride, along tiny roads, through farms and fields and vineyards, all close to or right along the river. I followed the Veloroute Vallee du Lot, which was very-well marked.

Here’s a photo of the famous Pont Valentre in Cahors. Construction started in 1308.

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At Cahors, things got confusing, as they often do in larger cities. There are two red roads (the D911 and D653) out of town … and no more signs for the Veloroute Vallee du Lot. At least not that I could find. Red roads are roads marked in red on the Michelin map. They’re busier and the traffic moves faster than on the yellow (smaller) and white (smallest) roads on the map I normally stick to. I have known this “red-route ride” was coming for weeks, as I planned my trip, and I was a little nervous about riding on a red road, but … no problem. Traffic was light and everyone gave me plenty of space. There was even a little bit of a shoulder. I saw several other cyclists, which means this is a popular route, and for good reason: East of Cahors the Lot River Vallee turns totally spectacular. Cliffs everywhere. White, magnificent cliffs rising high above the road to your left, with the river below … and cliffs across the river. There were four, maybe five tunnels carved out of the cliffs that you ride through.

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It was another 30 or so Ks to my destination, but … my bike computer conked out at 55 Ks. I think the battery died. It’s weird and a little disconcerting not to know how fast and far you’re going. It shouldn’t be so important, but I think most of us cyclists have made it important. Perhaps too important. Maybe the next several days will be a good lesson in mindfulness for me, to just relax and not worry how fast and far I’m going and enjoy the moment. And route. And cliffs. I’ll try.

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I’m in the heart of the Lot River Vallee now, the most magnificent and beautiful section. The last 30 or so kilometers I rode today are among the most beautiful I’ve ever ridden in France … and I think tomorrow could be even better. I’m going on a day trip (no panniers!) from my hotel in Tour de Faure and will ride east along the river and cliffs and then head back “home” on the other side of the river. Stay tuned…

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