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Sunday, September 01, 2013

Day 3: Nevers to Millau

The roads today were of good quality and so I made good time to Millau. I also made a point of stopping hourly after the first 2 hours and ate some of yesterday's provisions. I think this routine made the ride less tiring although it wasn't entirely successful as the weather was improving as I went south making me hotter and hotter as my destination got closer.

The A75 is a fantastic motorway, picturesque, with direction changes and hills and valleys to give an ever changing view. It's also toll-free apart from the Millau viaduct, Much of the route is at over 1000m altitude so I imagine that it could be a testing drive in the winter.

View from an 'Aire de repos'
I paid the €4.40 toll to cross the viaduct and to reach the visitor centre. The centre has some exhibitions on the area, not so much on the bridge, and a viewing area for the viaduct. Personally I thought there were more dramatic views a kilometre or so earlier; what dies Norman Foster know anyway? The viaduct is magnificent both in function and appearance. The structure is delicate for its size, although from the figure on Wikipedia it's still very heavy. Presumably if it were more 'robust' it would be too heavy to support itself.

From the official viewpoint
After crossing I turned off the autoroute and descended into the Tarn Gorge so that I could travel beneath the spans. There is a network of roads in the valley centred on Millau and all are narrow and winding. The town is a warren too. I rode around for nearly an hour trying to find the hotel! I'd entered a different way from my directions and went in what seemed the right direction. I spotted a newsagent and decided to ask for directions to help me on my way. He looked at the map and pointed to a mast on a ridge and sent me in that direction, which was completely wrong. Once I'd established that for myself I returned to the shop, and set off again; the hotel was less than 500m away in the direction I'd been going! How annoying!

After all this messing about I'd got hot and bothered and managed to drop the bike whilst doing a U-turn having just ridden past the hotel gate. It has to happen once on every trip I suppose. Oddly enough earlier in the day I'd been thinking that a 'proper' faired touring bike would have merits, but not when it's laying in the road.

The hotel is lovely and the proprietor very helpful, even to the extent of a cold beer on arrival and provision of a garage. She felt the pool might be too cold at 24 degrees but I decided to chance it and managed a dozen short lengths.

Vegetable tagine for dinner in town. So far so good.

462km very nearly all good going

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