Day 16 : Thunder and lightning
Col du Minier, Mont Aigoual, Col de Perujet, Col de Solperière
First we needed to cycle back to the village. Then we had to climb to reach a supermarket. While we were eating we saw someone walking with one trouser leg entirely rolled up, apparently Bram was a real trendsetter with his zip-off pants with only one leg. It already was clouded when we woke up. During breakfast the sky became even darker. While we started to cycle it started to rain. The first few kilometers of the day started with a côte that was quite tough. We could hear thunder in the distance and the rain started to intensify. I wanted to cycle as fast as possible to get over the côte. We counted how much time passed between the sky lighting up and hearing the thunder. At first it was 12 seconds, so the storm was about 4 kilometers away. Later we saw the actual lighting bolts.
The storm continued to come closer and the rain kept getting worse. The lightning bolts were now striking about a kilometer away. Suddenly the rain turned into a torrential downpour. We were somewhere halfway up the mountain. The lightning struck and within a second we heard the bang, that must be close. A few seconds later we saw lightning hit a nearby mountaintop. It was striking everywhere around us. It hit the top of the mountains three times, while it was only 500 meters away. It also hit to the left of us.
We decided to take shelter and positioned ourselves and our bikes in a ditch. After 10 minutes the weather had gotten a bit better. I wanted to continue as fast as possible, because we were soaked and were only wearing a t-shirt and shorts, so it was really cold. We cycled some more. At the summit we saw a lightning rod. There was a large open area, without trees, leading there. Because the lightning wasn't fully over we decided to wait. That also gave us some time to put on warmer clothes, as it had stopped raining hard.
After the top of the côte there followed no descent. There was a flat and straight road though, something we hadn't seen in awhile. We managed to cycle fast, which helped us to get warm and dry our clothes. After a long flat section we came to a nice descent with many hairpin turns.
The descent to Madières
It had stopped raining and we arrived at the toughest climb of the day. It contained the col de Munier as well as Mont Aigoual. The latter is the highest mountain in the area. In total it would be a 31 kilometer climb. We started at a nice pace and after an hour were only about halfway up the first climb. It was getting a foggy, so the view wasn't great. Six kilometers before the summit was a viewpoint where we took a break. We met a Dutch guy who had already climbed Mont Aigoual. After col du Minier followed a short descent. In the next village we had lunch.
It seemed like it was about to rain, but we only got a thick fog. We caught up with a cyclist on Mont Aigoual and stayed behind him for a while. As they say in the Tour de France 'you should always first eat someone else's plate'. After a few kilometers the cyclist started to have a hard time so we passed him. The last 9 kilometers were less steep. At the top it was so foggy we couldn't see the bar were we needed to get a stamp. We just cycled in random directions until we found it. The descent was better than expected, there was less fog on the other side. We ate second lunch in the next village.
During the descent
The descent wasn't very long. After a few kilometers we needed to climb again to reach the next col, a 100 meters farther was another one. Then we were rewarded with a very nice view.
View at the col de Perujet
To reach the campsite we first needed to climb the col de Solperière. It was a narrow and very steep road. At the top Bram tried to beat me, but failed. We turned left and a 100 meter further Bram started to race up another hill. Before I realized what was going on he was already at the top and, after cycling 100 kilometers, had beat me up a col. One kilometer later we got to yet another col, while we hadn't risen at all.
We had a problem when we arrived at the campsite's village. Today's route had only passed through small villages without ATMs so we were almost out of money. We also didn't have a receipt with today's date, which is a requirement for finishing the 100 cols tour. At the campsite we couldn't pay by card either. When we combined all our change we just managed to reach the required 10 euros. They didn't have a checkout so we couldn't get a receipt there either. The employees told us we could get money the next day at the local post office. Another option would be to cycle to the nearest ATM, 15 kilometers away. We didn't really feel like that after cycling 125 km through the mountains. As a final attempt we went to the village's restaurant, where they didn't have a checkout there either. During the night it rained most of the time, but not very hard.
Distance cycled : 125 km