Author Topic: RCTL goes to the 4 Winds (4 Vents, FFCT Gite in the Auvergne)  (Read 282 times)

RCTL goes to the 4 Winds (4 Vents, FFCT Gite in the Auvergne)
« on: September 09, 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.