Sunday, July 19, 2015

Soap box derby

Brigitte and Remi run the French Pub and it's easily our favorite restaurant in St Andre. Brigitte is also the president of the Association des Commer├žants et Artisans and organized a Course de Caisse ├á Savon (or soap box derby) today. Although the course had a couple of challenging corners (equipped with straw bales), it wasn't on a very steep slope, so straight line efficiency (high weight and low mechanical and aerodynamic drag) was the critical factor.

There was quite a crowd there to watch and it was a lot of fun. There were about 10 entries - some were pretty, some were fast, some looked fast and all were fun. A few pics.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A different kind of mountain biking

Today I headed to Allos for a bit of mountain biking. Many ski resorts use mountain biking as a way of generating some business in summer. It's a much more leisurely operation than 'normal' mountain biking - you and your bike ride up on a chair lift (a bit of a relief in the current heat) and come down prepared trails. 

The mountain bike trails are maintained to give a fairly constant challenge - lots of corners. But the challenge is never overwhelming - no dangerous drops and every corner is conveniently banked. The trails are designed to be ridden fast by good riders, rather than to provide huge technical challenges. Little wooden bridges, ramps and jumps add to the interest. Altogether more user-friendly than trails in nature!

The riders were a bit different too. Full face helmets and body armor were the norm. Lots of kids. It was great fun - each ride (chairlift up and ride down) took about 20 minutes, so you can get a lot of riding in during a morning.  

   

Saturday, July 4, 2015

La Canicule

There's a heat wave over France. It's the hottest spell I've known since arriving in St Andre and it's not predicted to end any time soon. Daytime temperatures are in the low 30s (around 90F) which is not that unusual. But overnight it is only falling to around 20 (68F), when normally the nights are cool here (around 12), even in the middle of summer. It's tiring and must be a lot worse outside the mountains. 

The strategy we've been adopting is to get up early so we can do something outside, then to spend the rest of the day in the coolest part of the house, only emerging again after sunset. Some friends have had to leave for a few days and left us their dog. He's suffering in the heat, too. This morning we took him for a refreshing splash in the river before it got too hot and he retreated to the garage.