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Old 05-14-19, 07:30 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Paris, France
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Bikes: Genesis Croix de Fer 20, Surly Steamroller

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A friend and I rub shoulders with some mountains pass by bike for the first time this past weekend. We decided to go to the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Parc (dead center of France) and do the Aurillac - Clermont-Ferrand veloroute via the Puy Mary which is one of the highest summit in the area at 1783m; the pass is the highest in Auvergne at 1589m.

We knew there were chances of rain on Saturday. What actually happened was masses and masses of cold rain during 3/4 of the day, especially during the climb. I found the climb really long and gruelling, every inch was a victory, lots of pauses; definitely didn't eat enough before and then the bars weren't quick to act... but I made it. It was incredibly cold (2C... snow everywhere, rain turned to sleet) and I basically had two big icebergs in-lieu of feet. Next purchase: waterproof socks and gloves and some gore tex trail shoes that dry quick. I just learned that the pass had only opened a week before. It's usually closed from November to May.

It was nice that the restaurant was open for some comfort (and fire by the chimney). There is a nice quick hike from the pass to reach the summit and have an amazing view unfortunately we couldn't see past 3m so we didn't bother. I was there two years ago in summer (it was really cold even in July - basically Auvergne is cold as f*ck year round) and when the skies are clear it's really gorgeous.

The nice thing after a long climb is the endless downhill. There were however two more long climbs before we really got back to lower altitudes. Last downhill felt infinite and soooo good. First day ended up at 90km and 1600m of positive elevation. We tried to find some place to camp but finally ended up in a camping site which had just opened that very day. Nice scalding shower.

The Sunday was supposed to be sunny but we woke up to rain and strong winds. The sky did clear up but the wind didn't stop at all for the whole day. It's not a good sign when long streches of flat remind you of the previous day's climb just because the wind is so fierce. We really though that day would be much more mellow than it actually was, even without the wind. Wind tends to grind morale a bit sometimes, but we went through some really nice valleys that made up for it. We arrived just in time for our train back to Paris after 90km and close to 1000m of positive elevation.
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