Let the riding (and the climbing) begin! - What to do between doctors visits - CycleBlaze

July 2, 2019

Let the riding (and the climbing) begin!

Cornflowers in bloom in this wheat field.
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Its been five years since I was last in Montluçon, but the town hasn’t changed much. Aside from a few new store fronts, it looks about the same. It seems a prosperous town, and the cafes are full of morning coffee drinkers as I make my way out of the river valley. The steepest grade I will encounter is on the road leading to Evaux les Bains where I search in vain for the ruins of the Roman baths. Apparently they are inside the modern complex, which is filled with old age pensioners « taking the cure ». I have a look at the nineteenth century Hotel des Thermes, which unfortunately has been defaced by the addition of a modern bath house. The road away from the bathhouse is also filled with folks descending to take the waters, armed with towels and bathing caps. It’s so steep that I walk up it pushing my loaded bike and getting strange looks from the bathers.  At the top of their hill is the town of Evaux which has a tourist office where I try to get a cycling guide for the department of the Creuse, but they are out of them. Almost a t random then, I choose a route toward Aubusson, where I am booked into a hotel for the night.

After almost twenty kilometers of constant climbing and descending, I get to  Auzances where I can get some lunch in a pizzeria. I have a large salad, planning to eat better in the evening.

There’s a lot of climbing and descending on the way to Aubusson. In Bellegarde en March a chateau makes the next summit.
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There is a long swooping descent into Aubusson, which sits on the banks of the river Creuse. I get lost trying to find my hotel, as usual, and need the help of the tourist office to locate it. But to do that , I have to backtrack up a medieval street in my smallest gear due to the one-way street scheme and hills in this ancient city. Arriving at the hotel I discover that they will not be open for a half hour so I retreat to a bar for a soda. After the hotel opens, I return and get checked in and showered and changed and go to see the city.

Aubusson is well known for the weaving trade that made the city famous in the time of Louis XIV. There are also a lot of medieval buildings and a ruined castle on the top of the cliffs overlooking town. Here is a city manor house renovated into a boutique for local artists.
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No visit to Aubusson would be complete without visiting a workshop where tapestries are woven. There are many in the city, and even a school to train the next generation of weavers.

Next to the tourist office is a refurbished weaver’s house with a demonstration of the craft inside.
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No fancy Jacquard loom here. The weaver makes his design following a cartoon of the pattern placed under the loom and threading each of the colored yarns by hand through the warp threads. He can raise half of the threads by using a pedal (and another pedal for the other half) and then selecting his colored woof yard he follows the pattern on the cartoon. It takes him about one month working continuously to weave one square meter of tapestry. To reach this level of skill takes an apprenticeship of between six and nine years.
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Colors are selected from a « library » of yarns dyed with both natural colors and modern aniline dyes.
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A finished tapestry.
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Another tapestry by a different artist. Most of the tapestries are produced on commission, but these are for sale. Way too expensive for my budget!
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In the evening I went back to the center of the city for supper. This proved to be rather mundane as French cookery goes, terrine as a starter, supreme of guinea fowl and a rather odd dessert of fromage frais with lentil preserves. 

Today's ride: 83 km (52 miles)
Total: 119 km (74 miles)

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