The Ardèche gorge is a 30 km stretch of river about 30 km away from Grenoble.
It's famous for the towering limestone cliffs on either side of the river, and is a popular tourist destination as the river is easily navigable by kayak or canoe.
I got into a trip down the gorge in typical Erasmus fashion - completely cluelessly. "Hey, wanna go kayaking or canoeing or something on Saturday?" "Sure!"
When we left Grenoble at 7 am, it was raining - a great start of a day outside. We spent most of the car ride discussing how cold it would be to spend a whole day on the river in the rain. A few hours later, the rain had cleared and we pulled into a boat rental place lined up next to a row of other boat rental places. After signing a form that said we could all swim, and being given a few cursory instructions about how to cross the rapids, we were sent off down the river.
Sounds like a great idea, right?
Needless to say, there were hundreds, maybe thousands of clueless tourists on the river that day. And we were among of them.
|Preparing to launch the boats near the nature bridge called 'Pont de Arc'|
|Alex in a funky-looking cave thing|
During the dismal weather of the morning, I hadn't even thought to bring sunscreen. So I ended the day with a lovely sandal-and-wetsuit tan from these shoes:
On Sunday I did something that made me feel like kind of an oddball. I got up early, took a bus into Vercors, and ran a race. I felt odd because I didn't know anyone else competing. I had just found the race online and thought it sounded fun. I felt odd when I had to ask the race organizers to watch my stuff while I race, because I was the only competitor who didn't arrive by car (apparently).
When I started racing the Trail du Pic St Michel, however, I felt anything but odd. I was mostly just having a good old time. The race first took us 900 vertical meters straight uphill from Lans en Vercors to the peak of Pic St Michel. As it was a mass start, the trails were rather crowded at first and running turned into uphill powerwalking.
|Peleton up the first big hill|
|Working hard or hardly working?|
|A train of racers zigzag up the mountain|
|Peaking over the edge|
|Last grind to the top|
|Thank god I'm on top! The pure joy of finishing a long climb.|
Needless to say, by the time I started the 150 meter climb the organizers had so kindly put in 5 km from the finished, I starting to feel tired. But 23.8 km, 1435 vertical meters, and 3:21 later, I crossed the finished line, super happy to have spent another beautiful day in the mountains.
Three days later, I'm still having trouble walking. I really shot my quads bounding down the descent! (Check out my Strava track)
- The Wild Bazilchuk