A positively chilly start at 12c but with a clear blue sky it shouldn’t take long to warm up. This mornings ride is to the South West of Cholet to Les Herbieres and a sub 50 mile round trip to get us back by lunchtime.
Another day of beautiful back roads, country lanes, grass, maize, plenty of cows and shrines, they seem to be at every road junction in this part of France, and who knew there is also a website dedicated to the preservation of them – www.oratoires.com –
The route today is a lot more undulating and the first 15k is either up or down. Out through St Christophe du Bois, Evrunes, Le Petit Chalet and our first crossing of the river La Sevre Nantaise, of course this is followed by a climb back out of the valley.
A lot of solo cyclists on the road this morning who did not want to pass the time of day, I guess thats why they cycle alone and it was not until we saw the first Sunday club peloton in formation and club kit that we got a very cheery “bonjour”.
Saint Aubin des Ormeaux was our next waypoint and its fine church, through Saint Martin des Tilleuls and then our first field of sunflowers, standing tall, all facing the sun and smiling, and who can fail to stop and look at them, it really brightens your day.
On through La Gaubretiere, Bazoges-en-Paillers, Beaurepaire and Serit before rolling into Les Herbieres where we stopped to take stock and look for a coffee stop. A very enthusiastic mountain biker stopped to ask if he could help, we obviously looked English and in need of help, anyway he pointed us to the “best cyclists cafe in town”
Coffee break completed it was straight out of town and up the hill to Mont des Allouettes, at 232m a highpoint of the area that was used in the war to observe and monitor troop movements . In the 16th century, no less than seven windmills were built on this hill. Today there are three left, one of which is still running.
From atop the hill a nice run down the D160 but we opted to turn off the main road and take the scenic route through Chambretaud and after another steep descent another crossing of La Sevre Nantaise, this time at the scenic village of Le Bordage Maria.
Suffice to say another ascent followed out of the valley and through Saint Hilaire de Mortagne, Lazarre and Saint Puy Saint-Bonnet before skirting Cholet. Nearly all the villages we passed through were very quiet, the only signs of life being at the Boulangerie and the sports bars which even on a Sunday morning were doing a roaring trade, gambling is still big business even in small communities.
The last few kilometres routed us through the industrial area which on a Sunday was quiet but my eye was drawn to a large metal recycling plant with mountains of processed metal pellets and a vast quantity of large containers, presumably to export the material.
Another ride that highlighted the diversity of the area and let you realise all this would be missed in a car. #bestbybike
PS And a bonus that Mont des Allouettes, at 232m is a recognised col, so another one bagged without knowing it. A couple more photos from the day, In the middle of the countryside an advert for a local artisan metalwork artist and another field of sunflowers to raise the spirits.