Today I decided to revisit a ride I did last year, up the Cote du Verlac. A 10km(6 miles) climb up in the Aubrac range of hils and ski station.
Last year I rode up in warm sunshine and when I got to top was suddenly engulfed in freezing cold rain and hailstones all across the 5 or 6 mile plateau at the top before the descent. I got so cold I could hardly hold the brakes on the 12+ km descent. When I finished my ride it took me ages to get warm again. This year I was going to be better prepared, I had arm warmers and a gilet.
I started off through the back streets of St Geniez and along by the river before turning up to the left about half a mile out of town. The first sign you see on starting the climb tells you its 10km and goes up to 1063 metres and the first kilometre is an average of 7.3%.
These handy little signs are placed every kilometre and advise of the average ascent every time. It can be quite discouraging for the first few, 10, 9, 8 and 7 but gets quite welcoming when you get to the 22.214.171.124. On the way up I rolled down my arm warmers and undid my gilet for extra ventilation but ploughed on upward and onward the gradients varied between 6% and 10% averages according the signs but my Garmin was showing 12% and 15% on the road at times.
When the marked summit is reached there is still about another half mile of 6% before you reach the physical top, not quite sure what that’s all about? I only stopped at the summit sign briefly for a quick photo and then pressed on up to the actual top before taking a rest on a convenient seat that had been placed there.
I took a picture, had a slurp of my home made energy drink and downed some energy beans. Before setting off again, I rolled up my arm warmers and zipped up my gilet and was straight into a ‘short’ descent of about ¼ mile and then a similar climb this was to be repeated about 4 times on the way across the plateau before I finally swung out on to the long descent in to the Lot Valley. About 12 kms of sweeping bends and hairpins, great stuff, worth all the pain of getting up there. Some great views if I dared to take my eyes off the road long enough. Soon enough I was on the final run in to ‘home’ along by the river.
It had a been a nice ride, much better than last year but they say forewarned is forearmed (arm warmers?). There were remarkably few people about. I think on the climb up I saw about 5 cars and no people and no cyclists. On the way down on a quite major road (D19) I saw a similar number of cars and one cyclist and no pedestrians, even though I passed through 2 villages. More surprising because it was a Saturdaytoo, just goes to show how quiet it is around here..