The forecast for today was heavy showers to start and temperature of 8c. It had rained now non-stop since yesterday morning and there was a brief early morning lull between the rain ending and showers starting and hats off to anyone in a tent overnight.
I had just left the campsite as I looked back to see a beautiful rainbow, unfortunately I knew what was coming my way and down it came, for the next 15km, luckily I just had to keep the River Lot to my right so no tricky navigation as I kept head down.
As I reached the village of Estaing the rain stopped and the sun appeared through broken cloud, I passed through Espallion before crossing the river at St-Come d’Olt and leaving the river as the road climbs to the village of Lassouts from here a continuous gentle descent to Ste-Euladie d’Olt before another climb to the tree-lined entrance to St-geniz d’Olt where I met Kaye for coffee at the Inter-Marche car park.
Suitably replenished after coffee, toast and marmalade I set about eating a few more miles with renewed vigour. I had not been pedalling long when I came across Anne and Katie, they told me how they had cycled yesterday for 9 hours in the rain to reach their hotel and feared hypothermia as they were so cold. They had the heating in their room full on all night to dry their clothes and this mornings late start was because they had to contact the British Consulate as Katie’s passport had turned to mush in the rain.
After the brief chat I pushed on with another climb as the road twisted and turned towards St-Laurent d’Olt where I crossed the River Lot again, the D809 road continues to follow the river until you veer away for the climb up to Le Monastier, continuing on through Chirac I was now following the river Colagne into Marvels, and a large sign announcing that the city is twinned with Cockermouth in England. There is a magnificent gateway to the old city but I rounded the corner to meet up with Kaye for lunch on the main road. The next waypoint is the hamlet of Goudard and this comes at the top of col de Goudard at 1020m. From here it is the city of Mende and after another couple of climbs and descents I roll down into town. Visible from afar is the Gothic cathedral and I could not help but stop and admire the new addition that has blended so well with the old structure.
This should have been the end of the day’s stage but the campsite was closed so I opted to continue, sure that I would find another one further along the route. I followed the D88 and picked up the D901 to the Roman spa town of Bagnols-les-Bains, past a camping car aire aiming for a campsite at Le Bleymard courtesy of Mr Google. The road climbed gently and I passed St-Julien-du-Tournel and an impressive tunnel with a ruined fortification above, Chateau du Tournel was originally used to guard the upper valley. Another 5k and I reached Le Bleymard, only to find the camp site, closed, so when Kaye arrived we back tracked to the aire in Bagnols-les-Bains.
Camp site: municipal Camping Tivoli, €13.40 inc electricity, wi-fi, hot showers and camper van service point.
Stats: 91miles 8244ft climbing