Day 12: Col Du Beal - Heidi Ho - CycleBlaze

June 18, 2012

Day 12: Col Du Beal

There was no reason to dawdle in getting started. Our campsite was nice for what it was; quiet, on a pretty stream, and free of charge. But with no restaurant, or even toilets, we hit the road early. We stopped at the local bakery and cafe (for coffee) and then set off into the morning mist.

Riding through the mist
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Based on the maps, we were expecting a hard morning, with long, steep grades. But it didn't turn out that way. The road was quiet, and snaked gently through fields and forests, and sleepy little towns just starting their day. One town had a market, and we bought fresh cherries.

Steph holds all the bikes while Leo and I take pictures
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'We have a col today,' Leo had announced earlier. Though we didn't think much of it. Sometimes we would reach the top of a small climb only to realize we had just climbed a 'col'. Not all of the mountain climbs are as tall as the Puy Mary of two days ago.

So when we arrived at the bottom we were surprised to see that this col, the Col du Beal was indeed a leg burner. In fact, it was longer and steeper than the Puy Mary.

We mumbled a bit under our breath, but what was there to do? It was another hill to conquer, and after a lunch of quiche from the local store we set off, up.

It was coming out of the little town that I heard a 'crash' kind of thumping noise from behind. We all stopped, my rack, and the attached bags and paraphernalia, had come off at the top and had flopped back behind me. Luckily I wasn't going fast. And luckily Steph was there.

Steph is an engineer, and not only diagnosed the problem lickity-split, but, in no time had all the parts in hand that had fallen off, and was putting it all back together, better than new. I'm sure I could have handled it myself but it was nice to have her help.

After she saved the day we set off again. The climb was indeed long, and steeper than the Puy Mary, and we all agreed much harder.

It was 13 kilometers with an average grade of 6.5% and a maximum grade of 9%. Grrrrrr.

Sign at the bottom of the Col du Beal showing distance and grades...:-P
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We climbed for several hours, had flies buzzing around us at times, nice views at other times, and, well, we got stronger, if you know what I mean...

The view at the top was, again, beautiful and, weary and tired, we sat and had lunch.

On the way down we stopped in a little town called Chalmazel for coffee and looked up to see that the cafe/restaurant was also a hotel. The hotel was also cheap, and it was a fast and a consensus, we would stay in the hotel for the night.

The hotel was old school, just a room and a sink with shared toilet and shower, which was fine because we were the only ones there. But after my shower came another problem. I went over to Steph's room and ask what I thought would be a simple question...

'I know I'm an American,' I said, 'but where do we pee?'

Steph lowered her voice a bit, as if it was a secret, 'it's at the bottom of the stairs,' she said slowly, 'and it's one you are going to write about in your blog.'

I paused. Then thought a moment.

'It's a squatter, isn't it?'


'Is it disgusting too?'

'No, it's actually quite clean. But when you flush, make sure your shoes are well away from it or it will splash on your feet. In fact, reach over to flush, and try and get your feet outside the door.'

She was right about many things. I couldn't complain about the cleanliness, but I did learn that the best way to flush was to push the 'flush mechanism' and then, sort of, quickly, jump backwards out the door, while closing the door at the same time.

The things we learn traveling in a foreign country.

Aside from that, the hotel was charming. Right down to the cord that was tied to the bed that allowed you to pull on the light-switch, at the ceiling, without getting out of bed. More than that, it was clean, the owner couldn't have been nicer, they had wifi, AND it was only 20 euros, a bargain. All in all a great night.

THE GREAT GAS HUNT UPDATE: We tried 3 stores. No gas. I will keep you up to date on the situation.

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Each kilometer had a sign. The rider on the right went a little further up and it listed little details like, you know, the average grade for the upcoming kilometer
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....this one's gunna hurt!
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There were some nice views though
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Getting closer...
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Almost there...
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It was purty at the top though
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Coming down. The little town where we stayed the night. Our hotel was just to the left of the castle.
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Leo was happy to be off that mountain and drinking coffee
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My little hotel room for 20 Euros a night
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"The Squatter"
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Steve Miller/GrampiesDodie learned about the correct way to flush a squatter the hard way on our first trip through France. After that she was an expert.......Grampies
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1 year ago
Another view of my room. Notice the string, that is attached to the bed, that you pull to turn the light on and off. Tres chic!
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The town of Chalmazel, where we spent the night, with the hotel on the right.
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Whoa! Look at that old oven!
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Today's ride: 66 km (41 miles)
Total: 755 km (469 miles)

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