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Photo by Jason DeVarennes

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Wettest Place in France - on a Sunny Day

I only learned well after our ride that our destination, Mt Aigoual, situated where clouds from cold Atlantic air converges with warm Mediterranean currents resulting in over 7 feet of rainfall annually, is the wettest place in France! Amazingly we found sunny skies. We had a bit of wind to contend with, but no rain on this visit!

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...

 

7 comments:

  1. Looks like John skips the helmet in Europe, but Pamela has her bucket firmly in place on whatever continent. No issue for me, just wonder what the dialog in the family has been on helmets.

    Doug in Portland

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    Replies
    1. No arguments or debates in the household over helmet use. I often remove mine for long hot climbs - and there are numerous photos of my bare head on the website and blog. Limited packing space and John's enormous head (helmet fills entire suitcase) was a factor on this trip.

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    2. Solution is obvious: John stuffs his clothes in his helmet and takes it as a carryon. No, really: no debate from this end either. Last thing I read says it makes slightly more sense for cyclists to wear helmets than pedestrians, because the head injuries in collisions are similar, increasing as your position moves toward the drops (don't ask for a cite, it would take forever).

      Doug in Portland

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  2. These posts are so good! Especially helpful that you share gearing setups and packing necessities. And the pix & narration are tops. Jim Duncan

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words Jim, and also thanks for the very generous donation! I will toast you often as I drink espresso's for the next few weeks!

      John's got some more photos ready, so I should get a few more updates posted soon.

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  3. I've seen John's Seven at Ride/Studio/Cafe and remembered the nice wheels with the mango King hubs. Is he using a different set of wheels here?

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    Replies
    1. Well spotted, eagle eye! I blame Pamela. Given that I was hauling her stuff - and she didn't mention the eyelash-curler in her packing list, did she? - I took a slightly heavier duty pair of wheels, with 36-holes in rear versus the 32 of my King wheels.

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