Traffic Free RoadsPost by Admin October 6, 2016
The Ariege is the perfect area for the cyclist who is weary of being persecuted by traffic.
Positioned in the Midi Pyrenees aside the Spanish border is where you will find this fabulous cycling area. Covering approximately 4900 square km the department is the least populated in France.
Although the region does rely heavily on the tourist trade and obviously there are cars aplenty come July and August you can cycle the Ariege relatively traffic free, unlike the cycling meccas such as the Haute Pyrenees and Alps. Yes there will be cars on the Route National, but in reality there is very little need to journey along these highways as the region is littered with the minor D roads; yes it will take a little longer to get from A to B but who is in a hurry when on a cycling holiday??
The Ariege is a fabulous area for the cyclist, having the Pyrenean mountains together with the flatter countryside heading towards Languedoc Roussillon. It therefore can be a good idea to alternate the days of your cycling holiday between the mountains and the rolling countryside that the region has to offer.
As you take the rolling course heading towards the wine country of the Languedoc you will see that the backroads quite often petal the main routes leading beyond to a labyrinth of minor roads and although most of us do have a gps device, being armed with a map is a great way to discover the quiet backwaters that these lanes behold. Taking you through typical sleepy villages where all the houses are shuttered up from the intense summer sun, and the dogs seem to be tempered by the heat; it really is a surprise when you encounter a car, in fact you are more likely to meet a fellow cyclist.
If taking the direction of the mountains, the cols are very well maintained and provide a good surface for those fast descents. As you climb the tree adorned courses, passing through the many pyrenean settlements you stumble upon offshoot roads which quite often will be car free. There have been rides that have taken 6hours or more and Ive counted half a dozen cars; the roads are unbelievably quiet.
It also quite noticeable too and that is the attitude of the French drivers – you will find that the bicycle for the main part is paramount, and as such you will find the drivers courteous, give plenty of room when overtaking and overall perhaps a little more patient than you may be used to. Having said that when riding on any sort of road due diligence should be taken.