It’s been more than a month since I introduced my occasional series on “bike routes with a destination,” so it’s time to highlight another ride. My first post on the subject was “To Belvès by stages: Bike Route No. 1,” published on June 13. Today’s route starts off the same way as Bike Route No. 1, but then swings away to climb a large hill before descending into the hamlet of Prats du Périgord.
A bit of clarification: The “destination” in these suggested routes does not necessarily mean a great tourist attraction, like a château; it simply means there is a logical end to the route, typically where you can rest and refresh a bit, before heading back to home base (which in our case means Daglan).
Our route begins at the south end of Daglan, at the D 60 departmental road:
Here you turn right, to follow the D 60 south and west to the village of St. Pompon, five kilometres away:
Once you reach St. Pompon you can stop for a break and look around, or keep going. In this photo, which I took yesterday (Wednesday) morning, the village is quite crowded because it was holding a large vide grenier, or “empty attic” sale. I stopped long enough for the photograph, and kept on riding.
As you leave St. Pompon, you’ll find you’re now beginning a very slight climb. Eventually you’ll reach the intersection shown below, with a road leading off to the right and up a long hill that will take you to St. Laurent la Vallée (that’s where we headed on Bike Route No. 1). But this time, stay to the left and ride along the flat road that you see curving gently to the right.
This is where it gets interesting. First you’ll notice that the road is climbing gently as you ride along. Then you’ll come to a fairly sharp left bend in the road, and this is when the hill-climbing starts. For the next three and a third kilometres, you’ll be climbing the hill, along a winding road that’s full of turns.
At the top of the hill, you’ll have gone up some 960 vertical feet. But because the road climbs so gently, with occasional flat or nearly flat sections, it’s not all that difficult. Just get into a low gear and take your time. (Biking tip: Don’t ever stop for a break when you’re going up a hill; it’s much better to press on, even if you’re moving slowly.)
Another plus is that the road is shaded most of the way. Today, when I did the ride again, I didn’t leave the house until almost 10 a.m. but was still comfortable on the hill, despite the fact that we’re in the midst of another heat wave. Here’s how the road looks on one stretch, before it turns to the left:
Now you’re at the top, and it’s a good time to rest a couple of minutes and take on some liquid from your water bottle. Once you’re ready, just head off on the main road (still the D 60) that you see curving to the right in the photo:
Now comes one of the fun parts — the descent. Just past the curve there is a long, straight and fairly quick descent that you see in the following photo. But once you’ve passed the steepest part, the road continues descending almost all the way (four and a half kilometres) into the village of Prats du Périgord. You’ll be passing between large stretches of agricultural fields (lots of grazing cows) and forest, and because of the road’s downward bias, you’ll find that you can put your bike into a very high gear and really fly.
And then, before too long you’ll reach Prats du Périgord, and next to the village sign you’ll see a sign for a bar-tabac, Chez Lilette:
So here is our destination, Chez Lilette. The bar inside is cool, and attached to it is a small convenience store. My wife Jan and I have often stopped here and enjoyed a coffee or a draft beer, depending on the time of day, on the little terrace in front.
This next photo was taken earlier this summer, on another journey along Bike Route No. 2. This time Jan and I each ordered a small pression, or draft Leffe beer.
On today’s ride, I stopped at Chez Lilette only long enough to drink from the water bottle on my bike, and headed back to Daglan.
Because of the way the terrain runs, the return journey is actually easier (and faster). For the first several kilometres, you are riding uphill from Prats du Périgord, but on a very gentle slope. Then there’s the somewhat stiffer (but not all that tough) climb back to the top of the major hill.
From the top of the hill it’s all smooth sailing, or biking. Now you’ve got a solid four-and-a-half kilometre downhill run all the way to the intersection where the D 60 meets the road up to St. Laurent la Vallée. You can easily do that distance without turning your pedals once, and your only discomfort may be in your hands, from clutching the hand brakes as you glide back through all the turns.
Today I did the ride at a fairly gentle pace, with several short stops to drink water. The run from Daglan to Prats took just over an hour, while the ride home lasted less than an hour. So make that two hours even for the 31-kilometre trip.
It’s an enjoyable ride, and a nice work-out.