Col de l OEillon
Let the Adventure Begin!
Finally, I’ve arrived in the heart of the Massif Central, ready to kick off my epic quest to climb the 100 Greatest Climbs of the Tour de France on a Brompton.
And let me tell you, the journey here has been nothing short of thrilling.
Sure, there was that unexpected tussle with a neighbourhood cat that landed me in the hospital for eight days, but with August rolling in, everything looked promising.
After postponing my original June departure due to Covid restrictions and celebrating my son’s belated wedding bash, I contracted Covid myself.
Thankfully a mild case, and with a short delay, I was back on track.
Originally planning to cruise down the scorching west coast from Caen and set up base camp near Pau for some nearby climbs, I faced a curveball.
Blistering heatwaves and forest fires in the French region forced a change of plans.
Pau’s challenging climbs would have to wait, and I decided to tackle the easier Massif Central region first before the Pyrenees.
With the car packed to the brim, I set sail on the Brittany Ferries St. Mont Michel from Portsmouth.
I have a soft spot for Brittany Ferries—those carpets are a dream to sleep on.
A tad naive
My destination: Camping Municipal du Surizet, Montbrison, Massif Central.
I naively thought I could set up camp and make a quick local climb.
But my plans were thwarted by a longer-than-expected drive, leaving me scrambling to pitch my tent before the heavens opened.
No leisurely campsite dinner for me; it was a McDonald’s night.
The morning brought motionless thick clouds, but a glimpse of better weather to the east urged me to adapt and plan for Climb No.39—The Col de l OEillon.
Rated 5/10, it promised to be a decent leg warmer—a 12-mile ascent averaging 7%.
The Brompton has landed
I arrived at the car park in Chavaney as the clouds cleared and the Brompton wheels finally touched down on French soil with a sense of ceremony.
The whole town seemed to share my excitement.
The streets adorned with bunting, and a stage set up in the square.
Were they awaiting my triumphant return or just some annual festival gate crashing the event?
As I kicked off the Col de l OEillon climb through Pelussin, my rhythm was ambushed by a horde of excited schoolchildren who had decided to cross the road.
But once past the town, the roads opened up, revealing the distant Mount Ventoux—wow, the memories and pain flooded back.
My recent covid had made it tougher than anticipated, but the Rhone Valley views made it all worthwhile.
The climb clocked in at 1:28—there was no time or place for celebrations as the bar/café at the summit had long shut down.
With a quick change to a wind jacket and a dry bandana, I descended at a thrilling 30mph.
What was once freezing on the ascent became exhilarating on the descent.
Chavanay, which was deserted before, now bustled with life upon my return.
Locals cheered for me on a Brompton (or so I think), and the band played.
1 down – 99 to go
The first climb Col de l OEillon was completed, and now, with a promising forecast for the Massif Central weekend, it’s time to think: Col de la Republique or Col de la Croix-de-Chaubouret tomorrow?
Fingers crossed for more thrilling adventures.