Thursday 19th May – Ride Day 7:
Day seven of ‘France en Velo’ was aptly named by our route tweaker, Aspey, as the ‘Queens stage’ and understandably so as it had us ascending 8,000 ft over 114 miles. The challenge was exacerbated with a number of long climbs and steep gradients of up to 18% at times!
Fortunately the temperature today was not so oppressive and accompanied by a fresh breeze which whilst hindering progress was a refreshing change from the last three days of stifling heat.
Unfortunately Johnny had to take a day off today due to knee pain. Nokey & Byrney also took the van option up a couple of the longer climbs.
The route took us from Entraygues to Villefort, still in Occitaine but moving deprtements between Aveyron and Lozere.
Another day of incredible vistas throughout the ride. Highlights of the day were:
– A welcome coffee stop in St Geniez d’Olt was after the first climb and in preparation for the monster climb of the day over the Col de Goudard.
– Lunch was supposed to be in Le Moustier but the van went awol 😂 (a sat nav error took Miles, Jonathan and Johnny c.40 miles out of the way requiring a motorway journey back to us). A super boulangerie saved us (slices of pizza and cold drinks) and facilitated the big climb before we all reconvened in Mende (a spectacular though busy town with a magnificent central church).
– A welcome coffee at the top of a ridiculously long climb, albeit at steady gradient, in Le Bleymard. After the break we continued to the top of the Col, crossing the Lot for the final time (rediculously narrow at this point and must be so near the source), from which point the rivers on one side flow to the Atlantic and to the other to the Mediterranean!
The route also took us through two national parks … the Parc natural regional de l’Aubrac and the Parc national des Cevennes where we are now.
– The hotel Nokey changed our reservation for the night to ⭐️… the Auberge Regordane at the Chateau de La Garde-Gudruin. A fabulous medieval building incorporating a 12 century watchtower occupied by the Parier knights and still feeling like it’s from the same era with its decor.
It required a detour from Villefort of just 3 miles but 1,000ft of extra climb.
Far from any complaints, everyone was aghast at the views on the way up and the dinner, once again, was delicious enhanced by the surroundings.
Once again, the wine (tonight’s Saint-Chinian was spectacular) took away the pain of the days cycling and we’re all up for another days cycling tomorrow – heading to the Provence to meet up with Robin & Bev 🎉