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The Ardèche region of France is full of tiny towns and villages, like Saint-Vincent-de-Durfort. There are roughly 200 inhabitants in this beautiful community that features a small country church built in the fourth century that’s still standing today. The structure and town have been built and rebuilt over the ensuing centuries but remain essentially the same as they were in medieval times. German bombs in 1944 hit the town hard and destroyed all the stained-glass of the tiny church, giving it and the rest of the village a dull, tan, weather-beaten look.
The villages are understated but the roads are not, and as our adventure continued aboard three different builds of the 2020 Specialized Roubaix, we went from town to town, all of them similar in age to Saint-Vincent and each with a different story that goes back, in some cases, 2,000 years.
Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder talked in the first century about the invention of a grape variety “at Alba Helvienne,” then the region’s capital, and in the 1600s the pioneer of modern agriculture Olivier de Serres described the wines of Ardèche, saying, “They are so precious and delicate that there is no need to look elsewhere.”
And you thought this story was about bikes? It is, but it’s also about where bikes can take you and about riding with friends and colleagues on bikes that make the experience better and faster and more memorable. It’s also about dreaming of new adventures and riding in rarely visited places.
As we continued our adventure this past winter, riding the 2020 Specialized Roubaix, we saw a road sign that urged us to take a left and ride the 11 kilometers to Saint-Vincent-de-Durfort.
We took the turn and continued on—and we were glad we did. Narrow roads. Short climbs. Water and rocks and ancient history lining the views.
More details on the 2020 Specialized Roubaix can be found at specialized.com.