Nestled in the Rhone-Alps region of France, 10 miles from the Italian border, Valloire is a ski resort in the winter and a cyclists dream come summer. Surrounded on all sides by towering mountains and roads made famous by the Tour de France, it really is a place of wonder.
Words & Photography by David Wren | @davidwren_
Journalist and friend, Joe Delves, and I were in the area to ride and photograph a road cycling event and with this being our 3rd work trip together, we stuck around for a couple of extra days to make the most of this little mountain town. Those who have witnessed it will testify that the off-season in a ski town is a unique experience. It’s quiet. Eerily quiet. Most of the shops and restaurants stay shut all day and the once bustling streets and brightly lit hotels lie empty.
The saving grace being the fantastic crepe bar Kôsa Krûta that had a steady stream of customers, me included, enjoying coffee in the sunshine. The owner, Nico, gladly spent 20 minutes helping us plan what would become one of the most memorable afternoons I’ve had on two wheels.
Packing for such a day is almost half the fun for me. Smith The Roll Pack has accompanied me on trips the world over since our first excursion to Canada in March 2015 and is now synonymous with leaving the house for an adventure. For a day on the bike I packed a waterproof, fleece, local area map, small first aid kit and two bottles of water. Maintenance was covered by a couple of spare tubes, pump, multitool, tyre levers and zip ties. Photographic duties on the day fell upon a Leica DLux and Leica Sofort that I was testing, leaving my Canon 5D back at the hotel and I kept the hunger at bay with a salami and brie baguette. When in Rome, right? Despite being a well-loved and well-used bag, three years on Smith the Roll Pack is still sturdy, stylish and comfy as ever. I’ve always gravitated towards timeless, quality products that will last and this bag is no exception.
After quite a tiring outing the day before, hiring E-Bikes was an inspired decision. Over the course of our ride, we covered almost 4000ft of climbing in just 22 miles! The long climbs made way for fast, technical descents, riding over everything from sand to mud and picking our way through fallen trees and rock slides, this ride really had it all.
Highlighted by the beautiful chapels on the roadside and a quick dip in the lake, Joe and I really made the most of our day. The two of us rolled back into town at 6pm, Joe’s battery completely flat, me pushing him up the last hill with the remaining 3% power left in mine. After handing our bikes back, Joe and I swiftly blined it for a pizza and a pint. A great end to a truly memorable day on the bike.