Not a good night. Woken in the middle of the night by the sound of mice scrabbling in the wall or under the floor and gnawing away at something. Amazing how much noise this is in the dead of night. We tried banging on the wall or floor, which created silence for about 10 minutes, then it/they started up again. Crawled around the floor in an attempt to locate the centre of action. Finally stuck head under pillow in a desperate attempt to sleep.
Got up early feeling decidedly unrefreshed and headed into the shower only to find that flushing the WC did not result in the usual convenient removal of its contents. In this case they appeared in the shower via the shower waste outlet.
Time to put some clothes on and find our hostess and let her know we are not her most happy guests.
Upshot was that we used one of their unoccupied gites to take a shower and they promised to make it up so that we could transfer there when we came back in the afternoon.
But the excellent news was the day had dawned with brilliant blue skies and sunshine. Breakfast outdoors on the terrace.
A fairly leisurely start involving a couple of photographs of us and the trike (nothing new there), then a pedal around the one way system into town to a boulangerie to purchase a picnic lunch.
Then on our way. No opportunity to gently warm up. The road out of town on our route to the Col de la Croix was straight uphill, and continuing up at 6% and 7% for the next 12km. Important not to be over-keen and strain something at this stage of the day or trip, so we settled into a steady pace and watched the scenery unfold as we climbed away from the town.
The Col at 720m was a bit of a misnomer because with barely a hint of downhill we continued to climb at the same or steeper rate for another 4km in order to reach the Col du Pionniers our next stepping stone. Encountered more dramatic rocky cliffs as we got higher and our first (short) tunnels. Remarkably quiet and traffic free roads
Again not much down-hilling before the road kicked up and we were climbing again. Stopped in a forest at a convenient tree lying on the ground and just asking to be a lunch stop bench. Ate our fougasse. Continued climbing and paused at some viewpoints to admire the stunning valley and cliffs below us. We continued climbing to about 1200m, before a fast plummet down and down, only to begin climbing again in search of the objective of the day – the Col de la Bataille at 1313m. On the way we spotted our first gentians.
Arrived at the Col and stopped for the obligatory photo. The col was at one end of a narrow arête spanning across a deep valley. On one side there was warm air from Drome to the south and on the other cooler air from within the Vercors. We had been told the geology and scenery was different on each side too, but it looked much the same to us.
No downhill yet. The road continued to climb across the arête and into a tunnel with the actual summit being two-thirds of the way through the tunnel.
Set off down and it was payback time with a 26km freewheel in front of us. Just needed to keep it under control and get around the hairpin bends, while also looking at lush wild flower meadows. In fact a bar restaurant at Grand Echaillon on the way down looked just too inviting so we pulled up for cold drinks. And then a bit further on we paused again to admire a seriously deep gorge and partake of second lunch (LTC readers note that we did not manage a coffee stop on the way up. Just lots of water – note from Sheila: this was because there were no cafés, not because of our eagerness to keep climbing).
More down to home, move our belongings to new accommodation, shower, and loll around
Tonight we are having dinner with our Australian fellow guests, prepared by our hostess. Just to keep us from thinking we might be quite good at this cycling thing it turns out that two of them have previously taken part in RAAM (Race Across America).