Last Tandem in Provence….

…at least for this year.

Rolling through Provence: Last Tandem Ride 2017

After a month in Malaucene we did our last long guided tandem ride on May 31. The weather was perfect and the ride was wonderful. It was also pretty hilly. Stoker had been getting stronger each day during our trip, and she did really well. There was a long climb up to Blauvac, ascending 1,000 feet in 3 miles, mostly at 6 to 8%. Last year we did this climb, but it was hot and I did not feel well and we struggled.  But this year the day was cool and we both felt great, so we made it up just fine.

The descent following the climb was really fun, not too steep, with sweeping turns instead of switchbacks, no wind and no cars. After that came a long stretch of the most false ‘false flat’ imaginable.  The pavement looks level but the Garmin says 2, 3, 4 or even 5%. Roads like this are really irritating, since it looks like you should be rolling along easily at 17+ mph but find yourself riding hard to keep up a 12 mph pace.

As we came to an intersection we had to wait for a large group from Trek Travel to whiz by, going down the same false flat we were climbing. One of the riders asked his friend if he saw the ‘twin pack’ with orange kit matching their bike. I’ve never heard our tandem called that before. It sounds like something packaged for sale at Costco.

Best Way to Finish a Tandem Tour

We had coffee in Bedoin,  then went to the bike shop that owns Modestine,  the tandem we rented on our first two trips to France. She was there, actually looking pretty good and fast, although I know better. She is still a lumbering, ill fitting, cantankerous shifting beast. This year’s rental, which Diane named ‘Clementine’, is a much better bike. But we were both glad to see Modestine still lives to frustrate another tandem team. She won’t get another chance with us though.

After the visit, it was on to one more climb of the Col de la Madeline. We were rolling very nicely. I didn’t even need the granny gear: we did the climb in our 39×30. To be fair it is not excessively steep, mostly 4 to 5%, but we still did well.

A triumphant descent back to Malaucene, a celebratory kiss at the ride’s end, and our tandem tour was over.

We stayed in our Malaucene rental house for 28 days, and were very happy and relaxed there. Fantastic cycling and great food and a couple of entertaining side trips made the time go quickly. We never got bored or homesick.  We are happy to be back in California with our family and friends and of course our dog Luke. But a month in Malaucene was not too long for us. It is a cycling paradise.

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  • Blog Author

    Rich Freggiaro

    Richard Freggiaro is a Stockton area native who grew up on his family’s farm. After an nine year detour to Davis for College, Washington DC for work, and Iowa for graduate school, he returned to San Joaquin County and spent the next quarter century farming with his father. He has been married to Diane for 31 years. He is (mostly) retired which leaves him plenty of time to ride each of his 4 bikes, and he is an enthusiastic and passionate cyclist. Read Full
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