A Shriveling Ride in the Cévennes

I needed to get some hours on the bike today, after nearly a full week of short trainer rides, so decided to go into the mountains and get some badly needed climbing, too. I had a route planned that included 2500 meters of climbing, but unfortunately it also had a few places I could turn off and make my life easier.

I felt good for the first hour and a half, but then all promise of sun disappeared and it started to get seriously chilly as I made my way to the Col de la Croix Berthal, at 1088 m. I’ve only been going into mountains nearly all my life – you’d think I’d know by now that 17C on the plains doesn’t mean it’ll be pleasant in the hills. By the time I hit the col (my turnaround spot), it was 3C, damp and windy.

There’s a 16km descent off this col and the wind was hammering in my face, so I started wondering if I had something to put on my head (I was woefully underdressed – see above) and realized that I brought a Covid mask! I strapped that sucker around my ears and pulled it up to cover my forehead…and it worked. Let it be known that if there was no coronavirus, I would have suffered a lot on that descent.

There’s something irritating about Covid Times that I only realize on long rides: right now in France there are no bars or cafes open, and just about all the very few public bathrooms are locked up. You see where I’m going with this. If you need to find a bathroom, you’re SOL, and water will be a problem, too, unless you know where to find some fountains. I didn’t, really, but I was lucky that I went through the center of the village of Vialas on my big descent and found the water source above that was non controlée, which usually means the mayor doesn’t want to spend the money to have it tested once a year. I took my chances.

By the bottom of the descent I was feeling okay, but convinced myself that shortening my route wouldn’t hurt my training very much. After all, it’s early…I don’t need to be doing that much climbing yet. I’m sure there were other justifications because I had lots of time to think of them. And so I cut off 20 km and finished with a little over 1800 meters of climbing. I’ll try harder next time, maybe.


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