Stage 14 – 205.5km from Montpellier to Albi (2013, Stage 7)
Last night my second soigneur and good mate Brian joined the challenge and it’s been great to welcome him on board, at least Andy has someone to share a beer with in the evening. Brian, alongside another work colleague Tina Sams (and her team of cake makers) have been heavily involved with fundraising and it’ been great that so many people have gone out of there way to help raise money for Julia’s House- The Dorset Children’s Hospice.
I’m glad to have left Montpellier, although a really nice city, it’s roads were just too busy for cycling. Montpellier did fight back and in it’s own way gave me a 2 fingered salute in the form of a massive storm at the start of todays stage – I guess you could call that instant karma!
I did get soaked through despite wearing a half decent jacket, it was still imperative that I kept eating and drinking, the only problem with the cooler weather being that the minute I stopped I desperately needed a wee. But no toilets and busy roads meant holding it in, I eventually found a spot near a vineyard and I think that with the extra fertilizer that the local Farmer Gilles (Grimandi) will now be having a bumper harvest this year; plus if you get a fruity Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 from the Languedoc region you might well have me to thank.
With all the rain the village of Saint-Gervais-sur-Mare had a landslide. I was allowed through but the van had to take a detour. I got absolutely covered in muck and debris (the bike really needs a clean), I also made the mistake of not taking my lights and visibility dropped to about 30 metres at the summit of Col du Mounis (at 809 metres) but luckily I got through ok – although it made for an interesting descent.
It’s a shame the weather closed in as I was riding along the plateau of the most southerly parts of the Massif Central, a raised land mass that covers almost 15% of France. After 110km of cool weather and pouring rain, the sun came out and the views were fantastic and very similar to West Dorset just on a bigger scale. As I headed into the end stage town of Albi, the temperature had risen to 33 degrees and I felt like I’d been poached as I still had my rain jacket on.
Now Albi is a town you can cycle in, it’s also a really pretty place, it’s a shame we’re not staying there as Andy is catching a flight back to blighty tomorrow, we’ve had a 80km transfer to Toulouse which not only makes it easier for Andy, but also shortens the morning transfer; having an Indian restaurant next to the hotel may have also influenced the decision – lets hope it’s open!
Here’s todays stats:
- Distance: 206 km
- Time: 7 hours 53 minutes
- Average Moving Speed: 26.6 kmph
- Total Ascent: 2,569 metres
Although It’s been a really tough ride, in a masochistic type of way I really enjoyed the challenge the weather through at me, although I’d happily settle for sunny days from now on in!