I set off on a 5-day cycle tour (touring bike with loaded rear paniers) of the eastern Pyrenees to climb some of the lesser known and some of the familiar “Cols” of the area.
Our starting point was south of Toulouse in the Ariege Region, just north of the Spanish border – where the influence of the Resistance (Maquis) during the Second World War is very strong.
The weather started out as perfect as could be but soon changed into some of the worst weather that I have ever cycled in. On the third day we got caught up a 20km Col in the middle of nowhere with heavy rain and a howling bitter head wind which appeared for the last 3 kms before starting our descent. The rain and wind followed us down the Col (unbelievable that the roads are paved in this area as there is nothing around you) and we finally made it out and found an open restaurant that let us in (to say that we were soaked was un understatement). They stuck us in a corner away from all the regular customers and then served us some of the best wholesome/simple food that I have ever tasted - well, almost as good as Di's... I was very cold and hypothermic so it tasted sooo good.
Over lunch we talked to the locals who informed us that the temps. were to drop to just above 0° that night with a high of 5° the next day with similar conditions… it didn’t take us long to figure out our plan so we ordered another glass and decided to head north to the railway line and cut our “Tour” short.
It was what a call a “Character Building Ride” as it is to easy forget just how wrong things could have gone in a region that is one of the least populated in France.
I’ll go back there again as I’ve some unfinished business to finish and I’d like to climb these Cols in dry weather as the roads are wild…
Back on the road bike now – boy, this is light…
The Mountains Win... Again