Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I came across this link on the randon wire, Got me thinking. I did not approach riding in the Pyrenees as though it was a very safe thing, the roads are smaller with no shoulders and the drivers are just in the same big hurry. Maybe I was somewhat prejudiced by Jean Phi's constant admonishment to be careful and that the drivers here are crazy.
I did not find much broken glass and human debris on the roads, but there are always debris from falling rocks in the mountains. Conspicuously different was the attitude towards cyclists. One motorist swung his vehicle around one of the switchbacks on the Tourmalet rolled down his window to yell at me "Allez! Allez!" The attitude reflected, to me was "I wish I was riding today". Workers on a roof stopped for a moment to cheer you on.

Day Three: Tourmalet and Croix-Blanche
Yumi is driving SAG today as she will for the rest of the tour. A minor mechanical, actually "Vince breaks something else", takes us to the local cyclery in Argeles. Problem solved at a decent cost of 5 Euro's and Yumi drives off with Trudy to the foot of the Tourmalet. She looks nervous, it is the giant of the Pyrenees, it is steep and long.

I ride up from Argeles with Jean Phi and we catch Trudy. I know I will irritate her on her climb so I push on after a while leaving that job to Jean Phi. This side of the giant is moonscape with cliffs I would not want to overshoot.

And the last kilometer gets a little more steep

I ask a spanish cyclist at the summit to take a photo. He asks me if it was difficult. I give him my standard answer; "it is always difficult".

It is getting cold, I put on my coat and why not a hill repeat.

I go down to join them for the last 2-3 k.

And that last steep pitch. I will pay later.

Congratulations T, you have conquered the Tourmalet.

Then Jean Phi leads me on the descent. A quick bike check at La Mongie and we fly all the way to Bagnere. This side is greener with more shade and will be a more clement climb in the summer.

But there is more, Jean Philippe knows the Pyrenees better than the back of his hand and takes me on a scenic tour of this area popular for its healing natural springs.

And beautiful old Churches.

Rolling Pastures, that got me thinking, if sheep are so stupid, how come they make wool.

After a steep Climb of about 1000ft we stop for a picnic which Yumi and Trudy will spread from the SAG. Jean Phi stretches, for he knows what lies ahead.

For after rolling through the most beautiful countryside on a road that would not fit 2 cars side by side.

We climb to Croix Blanche through a brutally steep 1000ft. I can barely stay with Jean Phi at this point. At the top I take a sweeping look at the panorama.

Before Collapsing like Roland.

But clouds are beginning to gather in the mountains quickly.

No sniveling, time to go home, hope the clouds clear by tomorrow, Oh! who can think that far?

Back at Argeles Jean Phi asks Dominick, the wife of the Chef and owner of the Mirramont to add an extra bowl of pasta to my Dinner. "Pas de Probleme" I will need it.
10, 000ft of climbing in just over 70 miles.

Thanx to the people of the Pyrenees


Jon Muellner said...

You lucky devil - that is such a fabulous ride!

Russell said...

What an amazing series of posts!

Shan said...

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. What a fabulous vacation. Sounds like J-Phi is getting in Tour shape already for 2010!