Would you believe us if we told you that there’s a 90-kilometer-long gravel trail network in a little-known region of France? Well, it’s true. The network passes through the untamed Eyrieux River valley in the heart of the Ardèche. It’s not only true, but we rode it this past winter on the 2020 Specialized Creo SL to learn more about the bikes and the gravel in this dynamic part of Europe.
The trail follows the route of a regional railroad line that was abandoned in 1968—much to the joy of gravel riders in the area. You can now ride from La Voulte-sur-Rhône to Le Cheylard and from Le Cheylard to Saint-Agrève as two great options. The water, forests, cafés and medieval towns adjacent to the trail make this a must-visit for travelers seeking long gravel loops.
Our adventures with the Specialized Creo SL in La Dolce Via were partly about the bike and how well the design and execution of this model made gravel riding pure fun, and partly about exploring a new region away from cars and traffic, on dirt and gravel roads that allowed us access to virtually unlimited trails to get the complete Creo SL experience. The amazing range of the Creo SL (80 miles, with an option to add another 40 miles with a battery extender) gave us the freedom to roam.
Let’s start with the name as an homage to all the Classics scholars in the world: Creo is the first person singular in the present indicative active tense of the Latin verb creo/creare, which means “to create” or “I create.”
On this day in late winter before the world was required to stay indoors we were able to explore, worry free, these gravel trails on a bike with assistance up to 28 mph, a range of 120 miles and a modest weight of 26.8 pounds (12.15 kilograms).