Help for Heroes Co-Founders Bryn and Emma Parry continue their "holiday"...cycling 850 miles across France, doing their own bit for the charity...
I forgot to charge up Garry the Garmin last night so sadly we have had to rely on the Drip-o-Meter for everything today.
We left Pionsat after stocking up on sausage rolls at the shop and then began climbing. The weather was overcast and cool, so moral was high. We agreed that it's better to climb steadily than go up and down and one starts to resent the descents because it means losing height.
By 10.30 we were enjoying a grand cafe at St Priest des Champs and, lulled into a false sense of over confidence, we're wondering what to do if we got to Orcines too early. Thankfully, this dilemma was resolved by a slight navigational error on my behalf.
After coffee, we zoomed off down a long hill along the right road but in the wrong direction. We should have gone South West but instead we went North East and found ourselves in St Gervais rather than Ancizes. Not realising at the time that this was the case, we were delighted to find a museum to the Resistance and had a happy hour learning about their extraordinary efforts in this area.
It was only when we started off again that I found the map bore no immediate resemblance to what I expected and before long I had realised the awful truth that we were on route to Brussels.
"Oh well" said Emma brightly, "...at least we visited the museum". There are moments like this when I realise just how lucky I am.
Once I had worked out exactly where I was lost, I was able to work out Route B and off we set again. In the distance we could see the Puy De Dome and I knew that if we kept that on the nose we would be about right.
We had a picnic of breakfast baguettes and our sausage rolls before spinning down the side of a ravine to a large dam and an impressive viaduct, the Viaduc des Fades. It's impressive alright but no one goes there anymore and the tourist shop and cafe are boarded up so, instead of a reviving coffee before the ascent, we just did the ascent.
"What...(puff)...no...(puff)...witty banter?" I gasped.
"Not, yet...(puff)....I'm thinking..." puffed Emma.
It was a long and steep climb back up to the plateau with not a lot of witty banter from either of us.
Finally, lacking water and having burnt off the sausage rolls, we hauled into Ancizes where we could have been hours before if we had not deliberately diverted to see the museum....hmmm.
Don't bother going to Ancizes for lunch. It's not really an ideal lunch type of place. We did manage something called a Crock but all it did was glue up my stomach. However, at least it was food and we were able to fill water bottles and put the place behind us.
More climbs and descents before we turned onto the D941 towards Orcines. I had always anticipated that it wouldn't be much fun as it's the only road available that runs between all the volcanoes and so all the traffic uses it. It's a red D road and my advice is to avoid them if at all possible. This time we had no choice, so it was extra Jelly Babies and crack on.
The Drip-o-Meter was at the right side of the scale as we wobbled up the long, straight and very busy road cresting at Col des Goules at 997m where Emma was heard to say a rude word. A few more metres brought us to Volcano Land or similar, a tourist resort where we could pull in off the road and wipe the sweat out of the eyes.
Then it was a rapid descent down to Orcines, flashing past a team of traffic police who smiled at our rather obvious attempts to break the limit. Just as we entered the edge of Orcines we saw our 2 star Logis for the night. It doesn't look like much and the receptionist was clearly astonished to be asked if they did food... Walking us down a dark passage to show us the 'restaurant'. Frankly though, I doubt we will be hopping back on the bikes to go looking for any alternatives even if there is fine dining nearby. Just give us wine, beer and some scoff and we'll be happy here thanks.
7 years ago Bryn and Emma Parry wanted to do a charity bike ride and raise just £10k for our wounded...and ended up creating Help for Heroes which raised millions of pounds. This year they are determined to back and do that ride, and raise that pesky £10k!