Day 8 : A warm last day
This was already the last day, but the weather would be good. It was Sunday, so all the stores were closed. Today the 'col de la Homme Mort', or the 'col of the dead man' was on the schedule. First we needed to cycle 20 km over one of the rare flat sections of the route, but then it really started. It would cover about 800 altimeters in 16 km. It was a tough climb. My saddle was worn out and I needed to stop several times to adjust it.
Col de Homme Mort in the morning
The sun hadn't pushed the clouds away
Bram's elephantman-look was at its pinnacle, but eventually we made it over the mountain. After that the fun wasn't over, because after this col with an index of 3.5 we had to climb other ones with indexes of 1.9, 1.1, 0.8, and 1.6.
It was hot, but because the stores were closed we couldn't buy any water. A mountain stream brought salvation. After a very nice descent down the col de Home Mort we arrived in a valley. The climb out of it seemed endless. It wasn't very steep, but after 1.5 hours we still couldn't see the end. Eventually we arrived in a touristy town called 'La Chaise Dieu'. From there the descent seemed to start. We cycled through a short downpour with big cold drops. After 2 km the descent ended and we needed to climb again.
We saw a lot of birds of prey by the side of the road. It looked like 'Lord of the Rings', with the evil birds being messengers from Mordor, watching us in our agony. When we finally reached the summit of the last col of the day it was still 25 km to Brioude, the last village of this trip. From there we would take the train home tomorrow. Those 25 km were all downhill which seemed a fitting end. We took some pictures along the way:
In the distance lies the Puy Marie
It was raining in the valley
It was 23 degrees, but looked colder
The only disadvantage of the descent, and any other descent during the vacation, were the flies we got in our eyes. They came in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There were small flies, that immediately fell apart as soon as you rubbed your eyes. Then there were larger ones, which you needed to pluck out before they really got stuck. There were also very small ones that squirted acid when they got into your eyes. Furthermore, there were ones with long wings, they weren't that solid, so you could squash them, but then they would stick to your fingers. Finally, there were the 'normal' flies, those hurt the most because they were most solid and would hit your burned nose at 50 km/h.
Because it was Sunday we didn't eat much, only the large bread, no snacks besides a roll of Prince cookies. I told Bram I hoped there would be a french fries shop in Brioude. That of course was pretty unlikely, we hadn't seen one the entire trip, nor during last year's cycling vacation.
At the end of the descent there were two flat kilometers before we arrived in Brioude. There was a fun-fair going on, and the impossible happened, they sold fries. We ordered two large portions. They were pre baked and simply heated for two minutes in too cold oil, but they provided a lot of energy.
We found the campsite pretty easily. The desk was closed again, but the boss was mowing the grass so we could actually pay before making use of the campsite. He was one of the few French people who spoke English. Most other French people did speak some English, but my French was usually better than their English, so whenever they would speak English it was better to continue speaking in French. Otherwise they would start in English and be impossible to understand.
We had showered every day, except when we couldn't buy the required tokens. That was more than in most other vacations. Today the warm water was cold enough to just rinse ourselves without freezing, at least if we were fast enough to finish before it was suddenly shut off. It was raining outside, which it continued doing the entire night.
Distance cycled : 142.37 km