Two words can describe today’s events. Awesome and Brutal.

I’ve reserved awesome for the 4am thunderstorm. Now, nothing amazes me more than to watch mother nature at her best, but this encounter left me feeling rather apprehensive.

The simultaneous lightning strike and sky being ripped in two, coupled with the feeling that the hairs on my arms were standing on end that got me quaking in the sleeping bag.

Thankfully I made it through but in hindsight I am still not sure whether being struck by lightning would have been worse than the day’s riding.

The first few climbs were tolerable, but with some very short and steep gradients to contend with.

And then I had the pleasure of passing under a very impressive bridge.

An engineering marvel and I was rather in awe of such an impressive structure.

It was the section from Marvejols to Mende that was Brutal.

The road being littered with the names of pro riders, soon made me realise this was going to be tough. 2.5km with a gradient ~ 15 to 20% really did put me in the red. I was constantly pressing the gear shifter in the hope that the invisible gear would save the day, but it was all in vain.  Even with a 46/30 c/set and a 11-36 rear sprocket I really could have done with some more gears.

I eventually reached the summit

But before descending, I thought I’d reflect.

Poor bugger I thought. They only came over to ride St Malo to Nice.

Jesting aside, it was helmet back on (Yes I know, but it was roasting hot) and get descending. 12% gradient + weighted bike == max speed 🙂

Soon the descending was do and it wasn’t long before normal climbing service was resumed. Thankfully, long climbs but with a subdued gradient and with some impressive ruins on hand.

The final climb was were the source of the river Lot starts. Water falling either side either ends up in the Atlantic or the Med.

Now the descent from this one just kept going. In the end I had to apply the brakes, otherwise, I’d have overshot the municipal camp ground. I met Neil here and he was cycling the route in reverse direction.

It was 7.50 euros and it even had a bakelite telephone to hand.

I went to the small bar up the road with Neil for a couple of beers. Very interesting chap.

The hardest day’s riding by far for me.

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