Pyrenees France -- Bikes and Mountains travel blog


Woke up to emergency vehicles pulling up outside the van -- something was up with teh bunch of basques across the road from us -- Nothing serious it would appear but at least it got our attention and we are up ! After walking up to La Mongie and getting some pre race calories to help us focus on the race we were amazed by how many more vehicles had actually found inches here and there to squeeze their cars into -- I would guess for the last 5 kms (to the top) there are vehicles on both sides of the road. After the publicite caravan passes by ( I must say Jim made out better than I -- As he said its all destined for eBay ) 6 helicopters passed over we kinda got the idea that the race was coming our way -- The crowd became tense -- You could hear the tour official pa commentating on the race and along came the stream of Gendarmes with lights flashing and sirens blaring and Official referee vehicles with air horns going and then the motorcycle photo journalists swarming around the little lone figure like 1000cc mosquitoes. A lone rider had gained a few minutes on a small group followed in no great panic by teh main contenders -- I saw Lance with his distinctive yellow rimmed sunglasses and black socks safely in the Team Astana group -- then along came a few lesser mortals trying to keep in some sort of contention with teh others -- But since this stage had a further 70kms (20 straight down a VERY VERY dangerous descent from the top down to TARBES they could probably get back on -- The climax and status of using the Tourmalet had been neutered by this long descent. So after the race went by and teh road was officially reopened we decided to get going and not hang around -- This was Sunday and Jim was leaving again on Tuesday we had a lot to see. Like a salmon I decided to follow the race up and over teh top since Jim hadn't yet seen teh very top of teh col. --- This became a bit of an ordeal with thousands of bikes and motor homes coming down my side and walkers and gawkers on Jim's side after hitting a Danish guy dressed in a toga on teh back of teh head with the huge mirrors the van has ( is that a crime ? ) nearer the top the handbrake starts and the inability of people in front of me to move forward without sliding back 6 ft each time was a pain in the ass --- Eventually we made it to the top where the official vehicles were packing up all that aramco they use for crowd control ( the race had only gone by about 90 minutes previously )

Then I decided to show Jim the Cirque de Gavernie which I also had seen during my first week but the weather was much better now and you could actually see your hand in front of your face -- In actual fact the temperature and sunshine had taken a decided spike for the better in the second week and Jim and I both caught some sun on the Tourmalet --

At the Gavernie we saw the most fantastic absolutely glorious star packed sky that you've ever seen -- The combination of clear mountain air and high elevation took your breath away ( literally as well ) -- When Jim decided to go to bad i wanted to commune with nature and woke up at 3am still sitting outside "communing" read snoring



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