Eddie had mapped out a 200km route from Vézénobres out to Mt Aigoual and back that he planned to submit to Audax Ireland as a permanent. He'd ridden the outbound leg, but still needed to check out the return journey.
Mt Aigoual is the highest point in the Cevennes and features prominently in Tim Krabbé classic, The Rider. It was on John's list of must see places. So we were happy to join him on the scouting mission. We decided to split the ride into two days to allow lots of time for taking photos, as well as the potential need to change the route for the sections Eddie had not yet ridden. This would also eliminate the need for lights with the shorter Autumn daylight.
We packed up our gear for the two day tour and loaded the GPS units with the planned route. We enjoyed our great French breakfast with Muesli and freshly baked bread from the Boulangerie next door. We used the rest of the bread to make sandwiches for lunch, before loading up and heading out at about 9:30 - not the earliest of starts, but we are on vacation after all. My hand was still quite sore, but I survived the first descent out of town, so felt confident that I'd be OK. Amazingly it turned out that climbs didn't bother my hand or shoulder at all - good thing since we'd spend the day climbing!
|Elevation profile for our two day trip|
|You thought I was kidding about John taking lots of time to take photographs|
|this praying mantis got lots of attention from John's camera|
The day was absolutely glorious, and we even managed to get one of those elusive tailwinds to blow us up the mountain. As usual, I misinterpreted the tailwind as me having good legs, until I turned around and became acutely aware of the headwind! Given our leisurely ride and lots of photo stops, we reached the observatory just a few minutes after closing time! The temps plummeted at about the same time. So we didn't hang out for long, just long enough to put on all our warm cycling gear before descending. I was happy to have all that warm stuff. We stopped for the the day in L'Esperou, the next town en route after Mount Aigoual, where we found a hot meal and warm beds.
We were just over half-way through the ride, and had already accumulated almost 8,000 feet of climbing. This will definitely make for a challenging, but gorgeous 200km. Stay tuned for the return journey...