Words by Julia Favero, Images by Julia and Justin Weeks

Work, kid, cat and side projects make my life and Justin’s very happy but also very busy, so every minute we have left, we devote it to ride bikes. As there’s not much time left, every ride needs to be perfect: long, hilly and stunning; which involves a lot of planning.

It’s Wednesday night and we are ready for bed when I get a text from my boss. She’s telling me to not forget that the day after it’s a bank holiday and I’m off. The first thought we have: massive gravel ride, lake, beers, happiness; but we are too tired to prepare anything and postpone it till the morning.

The alarm doesn’t ring (that’s what I tell Justin so he’s not mad I turned it off accidentally). We are very late for the kilometers we were set out to ride so we target the prettiest lake, far from the city we want to go to and leave without a proper plan, only a route that we upload to our ROAMs.

The colored maps help us to avoid all the dangerous roads and to ride all the backcountry gems we can find.

We turn off the road into a small neighborhood with a very nice and leg opening short 15% climb leading to the first gravel section. It’s sunny, no clouds in the sky, the road is mainly packed dirt and there’s no one else there other than us. Bliss. My first big gravel ride is awesome so far.

Justin is so happy to make for me to discover gravel riding, he’s guiding us in search of more of these hidden roads.

We end up in a single track in the middle of a beautiful forest. It’s very difficult for me and I even fall off the bike, but under the trees, the temperature is nicer and I’m so amazed by the beauty of the place that I simply keep going. A little scratch never killed anybody, right?

After a fast downhill that leads us out of the forest, the open road starts to climb again and the dirt turns into chunky gravel.

Well, for Justin it is chunky gravel, for me they are just rocks. Like proper rocks. Babie-head-sized rocks.

“I start to walk. Then the climb becomes so steep

that even Justin needs to get off the bike.”

The ride now becomes a proper hike where we need to pass each other’s bikes, so by turns, we can use both hands to climb. We are still laughing, listening to music and taking pictures though. We do this insanity for so long, that the sun, the lack of water and food starts to make for less good vibes. Justin is cute until he’s hungry and I’m a bitch when I’m frustrated. We decide to stop and use the ROAM to get us out of there. We don’t care anymore if the ride will be long enough, hilly enough. At this point, we just want a beer.

We study the map and see the light at the end of the tunnel. The lake is closer than we thought and there’s a small village close to it. Getting the right route, we refuel, both bellies and souls and get to the lake in no time.

Salagou lake is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The rock and soil at the bottom of this huge lake make it totally red in color. The many hills surrounding it have those funny shapes: they are narrow and tall making the place almost unreal. 

After some relaxing time, breathing and contemplating nature, feeling filled up, we just wanted to go back home. So we turn to the ROAM to route us back to the house in the fastest way possible.

Julia is a rider from Brazil, Justin from the United States. They met in Spain thanks to cycling and are currently living in the south of France. Julia, 30, is a technical director in post-production for a fictional French tv series and also a mom of Alice 9yr (human) and June 1yr (cat). Justin, 27, is a photographer, occasional bike mechanic, and dad of June 1yr (cat) and stepdad of Alice 9yr (human).



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