Day 9: Puy Mary - Heidi Ho - CycleBlaze

June 17, 2012

Day 9: Puy Mary

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Today was the "queen stage", as they would say in the Tour de France. Or, as we say in America, "The Big One" or "A Whopper" or "A Long Damn Climb"

It was the day we tackled the climb of the Puy Mary. The Puy Mary is a climb used in the Tour de France. There is a long approach to the base of the climb with a slight grade, but from 11 kilometers from the top, the climb starts in earnest.

The top is at 1589 meters, which, if you do the calculations from meters to feet is, well, pretty damn high.

Yes, we're going up!
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We usually ride together, but with a climb so steep and difficult we, more or less, rode on out own. Mostly it's because, on such a long climb, it's rare that everyone climbs at the same speed. But it's also a matter of wanting to be alone in your own privet hell of misery. What really helped was that someone had painted (on the road) a countdown from 11 to 1 kilometer, all the way up. I didn't think about getting to the top, I thought about riding to the next kilometer.

Mountain View
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Still, though it was a long, hard, climb, the views were spectacular and the weather was perfect. Also, it being Sunday, there were tons of other riders. They were coming up (and down) in groups big and small. Of course they were flying up on little bikes, unloaded. Bastards! Though usually, as they passed us, on the way up or down, they said a few things in French, some of which I didn't understand, and a few things that I did, like 'Bonjour' or 'Bon Courage' (pronounced bon cor-ahge), which Leo and Steph said means they were wishing us courage, or 'chapeau' which means, 'I take my hat off to you.' I gotta admit, it was a nice sentiment, though it would have been even nicer of they offered to carry some of our stuff up with them.

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But anyway, we rode on and on, up and up, and took breaks on our own and together, as one waited for the other. And eventually, we made it, to the top!

And I must say it was beautiful up there, with views as far as the eyes could see. We also had lunch, and since it was France and not the top of a mountain in the states, it was not hamburgers and fries, but a fancy kind of meal. So good!

As a side note, for those of you that watched the Tour de France last year, we saw a marker in the road where Alexander Vinokourov crashed out of last year's tour on the decent.

The way down was fun too. Lot's of downhill for about 10 kilometers and then a little more ups and downs to the next town and the campground.

We were really tired by the end, but after cooking a nice meal, and then strolling into town for some ice cream at a little cafe, we all decided it was a day to remember

Mountain Town
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One kilometer into the climb
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Leo climbing...
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Hang gliders near the top
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Purty views
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Leo again (look about halfway up on the road)
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This helped us about half way up the climb
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Finally! We made it!
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Me at the top
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Lunch. I don't know what that stuff was at the bottom of the plate, but it sure was good. It was so filling I couldn't even eat it all!
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The scene on the way down
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Steph heading down
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Today's ride: 95 km (59 miles)
Total: 464 km (288 miles)

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