Mont du Chat
Cats and Pain
My recent encounters with cats have not been great (8 f’ing days in hospital and 2 hand operations last year). And to have a mountain to climb called Mont du Chat is ironic.
On my indoor trainer, I have ridden the Mont du Chat virtually a few times, and it’s always been a tough session.
The Mont rating is a 10/10, and the gradient is 10% for 95% of its 13.5Kms length.
A quote in the TdF book reads this climb is “13 of the toughest kilometres in the whole of France”. Nothing like a bit of comforting insight.
The book and my expectations were correct. There is rarely any respite and no views up this narrow forest road.
Before setting out, I studied previous Strava efforts and decided that 5mph would be a good average.
Anticipating the ride, the tactics were simple. Steady and relaxed.
Is it that bad really, “Oui”
The first Km out of the town was a warming 4-8% and as I span my low gear and I made me wonder if I was on the right road.
Then I saw the first Km marker signifying the proper start of the climb.
Within a short distance, I was looking down on the town and the lake (La Leyse).
The magical moment was short-lived though as the forest closed in and the temperature dropped.
The only time the tour rode the Mont du Chat was in 1974, which is a shame. It would be a treacherous stage.
In a perverse way, the steady 10-12% gradient was not so wearing as I had imagined it would be.
The gradient was certainly tough, but consistent. You could pick a gear you were comfortable in and keep it going.
Perhaps one disadvantage of that steadiness and no views was that it left you the opportunity to wander around in your own mind (a very dangerous place to be :-)).
Occasionally there was a very brief respite of 10-20 metres, too short and disruptive for gear changes, so it was enjoying the easing or spin faster.
Resisting all temptation
In the final 3Km, a carrot appeared.
Tempting, but I realised I couldn’t raise and maintain a faster pace.
Maintaining my speed, I passed him within 0.5Km.
He was not looking very good at all. He assured me he everything was ok and so I bid him good luck and carried on.
At 0.5Km to the summit, the gradient relented and a large radio tower came into view.
A few spins more and the trees cleared to provide a spectacular view across the landscape.
It was time to recover, enjoy the views and support the local auberge.
Yes, the Mont du Chat was worth it, but very expensive in terms of effort.
I turned off the Garmin accidentally when I was looking for photos, but fortunately I had saved the ride. (No re-ride required, phew).
The Brompton had totally smashed the 5mph target with a blistering 5.2 mph pace.