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Why? The Road of the Seven Wows

The road from Castres through Albi to Villefranche de Rouergue along which I went early in 2002 will forever in my mind be called the Road of the Seven Wows.

Simply it is full of WOWS.

Wow 1 - As I crossed the River Tarn in Albi to the left of the bridge was the Cathedral and the close-by Bishop's Palace. Wow!

 

Wow 2 - The road leaving Albi, like many in France rises up a ridge leading to a plateau beyond and this was steeper than most. I had to engage bottom gear to make the ascent; this is a very rare event with my outfit. I did though get time to look at the magnificent view across the town to the distant plain. Wow.

Wow 3 - Some miles further on I rounded a corner, and there in front of me and on the left was a small medieval castle. Wow.

Wow 4 - Another bend, this time to the left, a change of view and this time it was a village perched on a conical hill and which seemed to float in the air. Cordes en Ciel is well named Cordes in the Sky. Wow

 

Wow 5 - With trepidation I entered the village, turned right fortunately not up the very steep road into the village, and then went northwards. Soon after this a cement-mixing lorry started to follow me.

I don't know about you, but when this happens I always think about the monster lorry in Stephen Spielberg's film 'Duel' as it chases the hapless Dennis Weaver across the USA. Very shortly after this I passed a cyclist and then came to a sign at the side of the road which said, 'Use your engine to brake your vehicle'. The next bend was a left-hander and the hill was 10%! That doesn't sound too bad, but it was absolutely straight and 1000 metres long; a very straight, long and steep ramp. There were several escape roads to the right; to the left was a drop that really upset my vertigo. Eventually I was in bottom gear.

I have this theory that if you go too slowly down a hill like this one, you have to be very careful that the overrun on the van's braking system is not engaged by the weight of the van itself. Go too fast and the consequences are horrendous. All in all it makes for a nice balancing piece of driving which I always enjoy. However the lorry was still behind me and getting closer! Wow.

Wow 6 - At the bottom of the ramp was yet another left hand turn with its attendant escape trap. I negotiated all this, and right in front of me was another castle on top of a rock. The lorry disappeared up a road to the left. Wow.

Wow 7 - The road then lead over the River Aveyron at Lagupie and just below the bridge was a weir and water mill. Wow.

 

Well worth a ride if you are in that neck of France; I shall certainly be going there again.

 

Gordon

Note about the author

Gordon sadly passed away in 2010 but I think he would like his articles to remain

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