By Maggie LaCoste
The 100th Tour de France will once again climb the famous Mont-Ventoux on July 14. In celebration of this special event, I’m thinking about cycling in the Luberon, sticking of course to much much more gentle terrain than the Tour! Since I haven’t spent much time cycling in this area, I spent time this week looking into possible itineraries for recreational cyclists. Good news, there are a lot of options for recreational cyclists, but great news for the racing bike crowd looking for steep ascents, hills and lots of hairpin turns! If you’re looking to test your cycling stamina and you’re looking for a place to do it, I have a suggestion for you.
Provence Cycling Paradise is a test center for BMC and Bergamont bikes, located on the grounds of Domaine de la Coquillade, one of the most exclusive resorts of Provence. I actually came upon the center while researching places to stay in Provence…one look at the website and I knew it was totally out of my price range. By chance I clicked on “Provence Cycling Paradise”, and I discovered the information on the cycling test center. According to the website, visitors range from professional riders to amateurs wanting to test their skills at navigating some of the challenging circuits in the area.
The test center rents state-of-the-art equipment from racing bikes, mountain bikes, even e-bikes to clothing and accessories. You’ll find some real high-tech race bikes here. BMC outfits a number of top racing teams and was the brand Cadel Evans rode when he won the Tour in 2011. Bike rentals are 40 Euro per day, definitely not cheap, but I doubt that anyone staying here is worried about money. If you decide to purchase a new BMC or Bergamont bike, the rental fees are credited to your purchase.
If staying at the 300-1200 Euro Relais et Chateaux La Coquillade or renting a 40 Euro/day bike are not for you, but you really want to ride the very challenging itineraries in this region, keep reading. The very best feature on the Provence Cycling Paradise website is the link to 17 of the toughest rides in Provence. What a terrific find it was to see these 17 circuits featured on this website! 17 itineraries ranging from 22 to 127 km and with ascents ranging from 265 meters to 2596 meters. This type of cycling is not for me. Not only do I hate the ascent, but I also hate the decent! But I hope that this information may be of interest to those of you who are younger, more ambitious and seeking a challenging cycling adventure in France. For the rest of you, stay tuned, I will be writing more about Provence for the rest of us soon!
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