Author Topic: RCTL goes to the 4 Winds (4 Vents, FFCT Gite in the Auvergne)  (Read 6034 times)

RCTL goes to the 4 Winds (4 Vents, FFCT Gite in the Auvergne)
« on: 09 September, 2019, 01:18:22 am »
We have Yves (the club President) to thank for this jaunt. For sometime he had been thinking that he would like to cross off the Gite Fédérale as another life ambition done after the Tourmalet and Mt Ventoux. This year the club decided to forego the annual BCMF, crying old age and expense so the idea was adopted (I don't do many BCMFs because my participation is a guarantee of a heatwave so naturally I was on for doing a bit of mountain in september). Philippe planned the circuits, Jean-Ba (club treasurer) organised the trip and finally wednesday 4th september was there.

Day 1, 8am, rendezvous for nine of us to load the bikes onto the trailer, kit into the trailer hold or the cars and off we go. Four lucky cyclecampers are already at the Gite, having arrived the night before. Midday we arrive at the Gite in the Monts de Forez, east of Clermont-Ferrand. Bikes are unloaded, baggage is put into rooms, we eat our sandwiches, we get teased by Claudine who has come from Vichy instead of Limoges. In total there are four with assistance (Claudine, Philippe, Raimond and Yves who has borrowed the bike of another clubmate after health issues), four with fully equipped tourers (Frances, Jacques, Lucien and Dominic) and five with what is best described as "racers" (Jean, Alain, Roger, Jean-Baptiste and me. I have taken a Vitus 992 that has been fitted at the last minute with a triple and downtube friction levers, a choice which I did not regret at all).
 And so we set off uphill in gorgeous sunshine towards Vollore-Ville and the steepest bit of the three days, according to Philippe (claimed to be about 10% over 300m). Regroupement around a pretty fountain (we will get very used to stops to regroup the next couple of days). 
After this easing of the legs we continue uphill through woods, being overtaken at one moment by an e-bike that must have been derestricted, easily 25km/h uphill (it's a vtt so quite probably using a big battery and more powerful motor). After 12kms of climbing we reach the first objective of the trip, the Col de Frissonnet, alt 702m. Another halt to regroup and watch another peloton go by without stopping.

Finally the road goes down towards Celles sur Durolle. The group splits rapidly into descendeurs and rather more sedate riders. I am in the former category, helped by carrying two bottles when the others only have one. After a rapid descent the road continues as a false flat going downwards and I slip off the front for a photo break.
 Eventually we are climbing again to Viscomtat where there is another halt to regroup before attacking the principal objective of the day, the Col du Pertuis. Viscomtat is quite a pretty little town built on the side of a hill. We take a break in the sunshine waiting for the last of the group, Alain, who is having a lot of trouble with a mal-functioning shoulder. The next stage will prove very difficult for two of the group.

And so we start climbing in earnest. The Col du Pertuis is not very long, 8kms from Viscomtat, probably about 10kms from the end of the false flat descending, and a fairly regular climb with lots of shade from the surrounding forest in its upper portion. We arrive at the top in dribs and drabs. The wait is long but from here the road back to the gite is very nearly all downhill, 13kms before we hit a little climb.

The col has been tidied up a bit since I last came here. It was 20 years ago, Philippa's first col (she was 3 at the time).

We eventually start down. Alain has hit his limit and will go down as far as he can before we send a vehicle to rescue him. The descent gets more technical after Vollore Montagne with the sunlight through the trees making it impossible to see where the bends start and if there is any gravel. Just after a sharp hairpin I cross a camping-car going up. I hope all the others see it in time. When I get to Aubusson d'Auvergne the two in front of me have just been fed ice creams by an english couple in the village. Their prize for being ahead of the rest. It's a small world sometimes.
And so we ride on back to the Gite des 4 Vents. Just a tiny bit of climbing to get there. Day one 49kms and 838m climbed. Average speed 13kms. I am happy, I didn't have any real problems at all (I am not gifted as a climber). Shower, supper and bed, tomorrow is a more serious day. 

Re: RCTL goes to the 4 Winds (4 Vents, FFCT Gite in the Auvergne)
« Reply #1 on: 24 September, 2019, 10:31:30 pm »
We woke up on thursday morning to find that the rain had fallen in the night. It was now murky and cold, a complete change from the day before. Straight away the big question was "what do I wear?" Five months had passed since this was last a problem. Long shorts and a lot of short-sleeved layers was the decision - and, rather foolishly, no socks in the sandals. Breakfast was a fairly slow affair, not helped by a toaster that, while accommodating several slices of bread at one go, still took its time grilling them (and had to be watched so that you came away with the same pieces of bread that you started with). We were not the only group and things got a bit mixed up at times.
Today Alain had decided to admit defeat with his various joints hampering his ability to pull on the bars climbing. He was to be our support vehicle, carrying the packed lunches. Common sense would have indicated giving him a long-sleeved jersey to carry as well, in case of need. Common sense did not prevail! Still it was nice not to have to find place for sandwiches in my Decathlon saddlebag. The ride started with a little descent into Aubusson d'Auvergne. Philippe assured us that this wouldn't be long and he was right. After that we started climbing up a very picturesque little gorge (which was just as I remembered it from twenty years ago).

The inner ring stays very much in play as we go climb up to Vollore Montagne. While still climbing I overhear Philippe remark that it would not be a good idea to miss the turn for La Chamba because the road continues to go down to Noirétable and climbing back up would be annoying (and tiring). Not long after this the gradient changed to be more favourable. I found myself in front enjoying descending with Jean (on a 650C soot bike), we manage to leave the others far behind us and just in time I turn my head to see La Chamba on a signpost. Check road numbers with the route sheet, it's our turn. We wait for the rest of the group to arrive in twos and threes and I become a signaler (like the evening before).      The sun is shining on us now but warmth is conspicuous by its absence (or perhaps present but only in homeopathic quantities!). Things are not going to get better as we start climbing again and the road goes back in amongst the trees. Very nice climbing weather, not so good for standing around and positively parky descending. On this stretch in the trees we meet a man on foot coming down with a basket full of cèpes (all young ones, the limousins were all quite envious - with the drought mushrooms have been rather lacking this year in our part of the world). Going on up we met another pair of walkers who asked us if we had seen someone walking down the hill as they were meant to meet and they had gone up. We said yes of course. At the regroupment at the top of the hill, on comparing notes we discovered that the person they were looking for was not the one with the mushrooms. At the mention of mushrooms Claudine had got her "pochon" out of her barbag and done a bit of looking herself, before handing it to Alain to see if he could do any better! (A "pochon" is one of those words that changes sense as you go from french region to french region; in Limousin it is a plastic shopping bag of the sort banned by the EU which is carried to keep all sorts of things found by the wayside, usually (although not always) edible).
  This was just off the route. It will be something to go back for at a later date; the views might be quite good.
La Chamba is at over 1000m altitude and the temperature was a bit colder than in the valley. We now had a bit of descending before the climb up to the Col de la Loge which was our lunch stop.  1252m and a stiff bit of climbing. On paper this was easier than our challenge for the afternoon but I didn't find it so. It was also very cold and windy on the summit but we found some relatively sheltered tables for lunch. Somehow I managed to not get a photo of the col sign. Perhaps I didn't see it in amongst all the paraphernalia of a nordic skiing site.