Stage Seven: Tue 6th Oct: 184km, 3,800m
Privas to Privas (Ardechoise, part One): 184km * 3,800m
Main climbs: Cols : Arenier, Sarasset, de la Fayolle, Miraud, Quatre Vios, Creysson, de la Faye, Le Coulet, LArdechoise, Clede, Mont Gerbier de Jonc, Pranlet, Croix de Ste André
Phil Deeker says: “This is the first of the two stages that will take riders over most of the climbs of the Ardechoise cyclo-sportive. Another intense day in the saddle, but so, so worth the pain! The Gerbier de Jonc is one of the two highest points of the region : the scenery of this stage is quite exceptional: open, barren hills alternate with densely wooded, steep-sided valleys.”
6.00 am: alarm 🙁
My legs are still swollen, but not too badly! Mix up with breakfast time, so I head to my bike and put some air in the tyres.
7.45 am: roll out. It’s warm and humid, but not raining quite yet.
8.00 am: I’m too hot, so stop to take off some clothes – it’s effectively a 30km climb. Now I’m dead last.
8.10 am: I catch Nico and offer him my wheel. We catch Allan – now we’re a mini-peloton 🙂
8.45 am: we catch Thomas and Dirk, Nico’s Dad (Team LMT guest rider for the next three stages): now we’re five 🙂
9.15 am: the rain – wind driven, soaking rain – arrives. I put clothing back on!
10.30 am: I think my right cleat has broken and I can’t clip into the pedal properly. I ride on, hoping to be able to fix it at lunch.
12.00 noon’ish: somewhere behind me, Thomas crashes, but not badly – just a little skin loss! He’s fine and rides on.
12.30 pm: we ascend into a thunder storm. Torrential rain. Lightning.
1.00 pm: the rain stops and the storm moves away to the south. The light and the colours are fantastic. Stone circles!
2.00 pm: lunch. With a bit of help from Phil D, Phil B, his wife Sarah and Jonny the Wunder Mechanic, we fix my cleat/pedal issue. Phew.
3.00pm: 30 km descent 🙂
4.00 pm: Phil D, Allan and I ride the rest of the day together. The light is amazing, the scenery stunning, the Cols keep coming and the roads are deserted.
6.30 pm: I take one final shot of Allan and Phil cresting the final col, while in the background, a thunder storm builds.
7.00 pm: after a blistering 20km descent, we’re done. Three more days to go.