Crepes at 1500m

Trip Start Jul 02, 2011
Trip End Aug 01, 2011

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Flag of France  , Midi-Pyrénées,
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We awoke to a cloudy sky and wet roads. It had rained a lot over night and it didn't look like it had finished yet. We packed up everything at the hotel and sadly bid farewell to the lovely staff, especially Dominique, who had been so helpful and made our stay so enjoyable. If ever you find yourself in the wonderful town of Argeles-Gazost we highly recommend Le Miramont.
So while our luggage took the easy ride in the taxi we set about our 107km journey over two Cols.
The first part of the ride was over old ground except this time we rode on a rail trail back to Lourdes before joining the road again and heading to St Marie de Campan which is at the base of the Toumelet. At the town of Campan we checked for directions with an old man who was walking by. I can barely make myself understood asking for directions and its amazing how much detail people try to give us to get to our destination - I usually only understand about 1 word in 10. He did compliment me on my French as we left though. By the time we got to St Marie de Campan it was almost midday and it had started raining again. We decided to get an early lunch and shelter from the rain and cold wind.
After lunch it was straight into the first Climb of the day, the Col de Aspin. It was still raining but only just. The drizzle only lasted about 30 minutes. The first few kilometers weren't much at all not really getting above 4%. The last 6kms got steeper but I must say we were a little surprised at how easy this Col was. Maybe we're getting used to these climbs after all. At the top the wind was freezing and blowing a gale. I had to shelter behind a camper van while Jeff and Tom took the customary photos under the name of the mountain. We descended fast and arrived in the medieval town of Arreau. There was a shop dating back from the 1400s and the church was from that era as well. It was amazing to think that 600 years ago people were walking the same streets we were.
After we left this charming village we wound along a valley for a short while and then started the ascent of Col de Peyresourde. This mountain again wasn't too high and started of fairly easy before building to a reasonable gradient. At the top we got a pleasant surprise. There was a shop that sold crepes and drinks at very reasonable prices. The old man who ran the shop was great and had all manner of puzzles out on the tables for people to try their hand at. We managed to solve them all but one, as we consumed our 6 crepes and assorted beverages. Tom said we shouldn't pay him until he told us the secret of the last puzzle but since he only spoke French it didn't matter anyway. On the way down, the road was very fast. Long straights with very fast corners. Tom and I both rolled down and hit 65km/hr without pedaling. 
We reached Luchon and found our hotel. Our bags had made it but the receptionist said that he didn't have a booking for us. This caused some concern until he checked his emails and found an updated booking that he hadn't processed. We ended up taking his last 2 rooms for the night. Dinner was at a restaurant down the road and we gorged ourselves on another magnificent 4 course meal. When we get back we will all have calves of steel and bellies of jelly!
We wandered the streets for a while, had a few drinks and headed back to the hotel. Only 2 days left of our own little tour de France. Although the climbs weren't big today we rode 107kms and climbed 2300m in total. That's over 15kms climbed so far, I think we're finally starting to feel the effort!
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