Early impressions of Corsica

_65889719_corsica-mountains

April 16, 2015 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Corsica is the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean, and more mountainous than most of Southern Europe.

It also has the highest murder rate per capita in Europe!

Welcome to some early thoughts on Corsica, following on from Roscoff to Murviel le Beziers.

I rode 1000km around this island in 7 days back in 1998, and know how tough some of the hills are; therefore I will try to avoid the worst of them. However, you cannot make a cake without breaking some eggs, so we are going to have to tackle some climbs. I’ll keep the mileage down to the minimum possible.

I’ve prepared some early thoughts, but I really think that we should consider leaving our camping equipment behind and stay in motels / hotels. Riding up mountains is hard enough, without lugging kilogrammes of unnecessary luggage.

We will start and finish at the port of Ajaccio on the west coast after taking an overnight ferry from Toulon. It is my intention that we ride off the ferry, straight into day 1.

The following 3 itineraries are a very rough guide, I’ve not done any finessing.

I will of course look at other options to try and keep the hills to a minimum, but we may have to compromise on how much of the island we actually will be able to access without going over some hills.

 

Itinerary 1

This option gives us two hard days, then a a 3rd day where we complete a circular ride starting and finishing in Porto Vecchio meaning that we spend two nights in Porto Vecchio before two easier days up the east coast. Then crossing into the middle of the island to the former capital city of Corte before finishing with a long (45kms) downhill to the port of Ajaccio. Days 2, 3 & 4 are an approximation of day 1 of the Tour de France route from 2003.

Stage

Itinerary 1

Distance

Ascent

1

Ajaccio to Propriano

72

810

2

Propriano to Porto Vecchio

72

1010

3

Porto Vechio to Porto Vecchio

66

630

4

Porto Vecchio to Aleria

76

540

5

Aleria to Bastia

79

210

6

Bastia to Corte

67

1110

7

Corte to Ajaccio

80

1300

512

5600

Corsica 1

 

Itinerary 2

This option is shorter (by just 19kms) but has more climbing and includes a different location on each night. The first two days are the same as option 1. Days 3 and 4 are the same as days 4 & 5 from option 1 , but we dispense with the circular Porto Vecchio route. We use that extra day to ride across the north west coast from Bastia to Losari. Day 6 will also take us to Corte but by a different route and day 7 is the same as option 1.

Stage

Itinerary 2

Distance

Ascent

1

Ajaccio to Propriano

72

810

2

Propriano to Porto Vecchio

72

1010

3

Porto Vecchio to Aleria

76

540

4

Aleria to Bastia

79

210

5

Bastia to Losari

60

1220

6

Losari to Corte

54

1000

7

Corte to Ajaccio

80

1300

 

 

493

6090

corsica 3

 

 

Itinerary 3

This is as close to a tour of the island that I can get in 7 days.  It is about 25kms longer than option 1 but it is hillier, an additional 900m of climbing over the 7 days. We don’t get to see the old capital city of Corte or indeed any of the island’s interior. Nor do we get the long downhill finish.

Stage

Itinerary 3

Distance

Ascent

1

Ajaccio to Propriano

72

810

2

Propriano to Porto Vecchio

72

1010

3

Porto Vecchio to Aleria

76

540

4

Aleria to Bastia

79

210

5

Bastia to L’ile Rousse

67

1270

6

L’ile Rousse to Porto

92

1780

7

Porto to Ajaccio

79

1340

537

6960

Corsica 2

Days 11 and 12 Roscoff to Murviel

France

April 16, 2015 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Day 11 Grenade to Mazamet (105kms) (320m ascent)

There are no bike path options today. And I failed in my attempt to limit our riding days to below 100kms. Sorry. We avoid the big city of Toulouse by staying north east along the valley of Le Girou river. There are no big hills, but a steady rise all morning until the only significant hill just before lunch in Puylaurens (70kms). Which means that we re-start after lunch with a downhill and continue with another 30 flattish kms to Mazamet our penultimate night and our last night under canvas (or similar lightweight tent material).

 

Route 2,977,880 – powered by www.bikemap.net

Camping tonight is in Camping La Lauze Mazamet

Campsite website:

http://www.camping-mazamet.com/

 

 

Day 12 Mazamet to Murviel les Beziers (87km / 870m ascent or 74km/680m ascent)

Last day, starting uphill from Mazamet following the Voie Verte Passa Pais bike path.

There are infact 3 options but I have discounted option 1 (although 2km shorter than option 2, it has more ascent, so by definition will be hillier).

3 Options:

  1. 50kms bike path to Mons then downhill / undulating to Murviel les Beziers via Cuasses et Veynan. This option is the second longest but has the most ascent.
  2. 50kms bike path to Mons then downhill / undulating to Murviel les Beziers via Cessenon sur Orb. This option is slightly longer but has less ascent than the first.
  3. 32kms bike path to Saint Pons de Thomieres then down-up-down to Murviel les Beziers via Saint Chinian and Cessenon sur Orb. Shortest of the 3 options, with the least amount of total ascent.

Before I started planning the route, Mark asked me to incorporate the Voie Verte Passa Pais bike path into the last day.  The first two options utilise 50kms of the path compared to only 32km in option 3. I will leave it up to you guys to decide which option we should take.

 

Option 2. Stopping in Saint Pons de Thomieres for coffee, probably Mons for lunch and then 35kms of undulating downhill for about 3 hours to  arrive at Mark’s late afternoon in time for a beer or two.

Route 2,977,716 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Option 3.  Stopping in Saint Pons de Thomieres for coffee, before tackling the major hill (It isn’t too daunting. It is only 300m of ascent in 8kms, average less than 4%) and then stopping in Saint Chinian for lunch, pushing on for less than two hours to arrive at Mark’s mid/late afternoon in time for a beer or two.

Route 2,977,746 – powered by www.bikemap.net

Days 7 to 10 Roscoff to Murviel

France

April 8, 2015 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Day 7 Rochefort to Jonzac (86kms) (60m ascent)
A shorter day than yesterday. Flat as a pancake and lots of farms and tiny villages to see today.
Depending upon where we start this morning, we may get to use the Pont Transbordeur for the 4 and a half minute crossing of the river La Charente. It is one of only 8 transporter bridges in the world, two of the others are in the UK (Newport and Warrington).

A quick fly through on Google maps has me thinking that this might be my favourite day so far.
After today the mileage (kms) will increase slightly, but hopefully none of the remaining days will be above 100kms.

Tonight’s campsite is Camping Castors:

 

Route 2,960,716 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

 

Rochefort-MartrouTransporterBridgeGondola

 

Campsite website:
http://www.campingcastors.com/camping/?lang=en

entree-camping-castors

 

Day 8 Jonzac to Rauzan (90kms) (350m ascent)
A longer day with some undulations but no major climbs. We stay east of Bordeaux and cross the Dordogne River at Lavagnac. Before that river crossing we will also be crossing La Livenne (at Corignac) and the L’isle (at Guitres) today.
There are no bicycle paths that we could follow today.

Tonight’s campsite is Camping du Vieux Chateau, in the Bordeaux vinyards, sat in the grounds of an old castle with a heated pool and a Jacuzzi, about 1/4km from the village of Rauzan.

 

Route 2,963,300 – powered by www.bikemap.net

Camping Rauzan

hotel-du-vieux-chateau

 

Campsite website:
http://www.camping-levieuxchateau.com/

 

Day 9 Rauzan to Agen (98kms) (280m ascent)
The preferred option (part bicycle path) is only 3 kms longer than the shorter road option. But, the bike path is significantly flatter (only 280m ascent, compared to the road route of 660m ascent). Which evber route we take, the day does however start with a small climb up to about 120m and then another short climb of about 40m at 12kms. The last of the “big” hills comes at 20km after which it is pretty flat for the rest of the ride.
The bike path that will be using is the V80 which we pick up just south of La Reole after crossing La Garonne river. The bike path follows the Garonne canal and river. About half of today’s ride is along the V80 cycle route.

Tonight’s campsite, Camping Moulin Mellet is a few kms short NW of Agen.

Route 2,964,839 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Campsite website:
http://camping-moulin-mellet.com/home-uk.html

 

CampingleMoulindeMelletcamping-empl

 

Day 10 Agen to Grenade (98kms) (60m ascent)
There are options today.
A full 100kms on the V80 bike route, which follows the Garonne river and canal all day and which might be a little boring.
An alternative of about 3okms on the bike path and the rest on roads, which is about 98kms in total but which has 660m of ascent, or my preferred option which is about 50kms on the bike path and the rest on rural roads. This allows us to get a feel for the area, rather than blindly following a canal tow path.

Today’s campsite is Camping des Lacs, approximately 25kms North of Toulouse.
We are just south of the village of Grenade, where we might have to do our shopping as I’m not sure what facilities are available on-site.

Another pancake flat day of cycling, whichever route we take. Don’t get fooled into a false sense of security, our last day before we arrive Chez Mark is hilly.

Route 2,965,848 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Campsite Website:
http://www.camping-des-lacs.fr/