Sunday was our last day in Argeles Gazost and to mark the occasion the town celebrated with a monster market night, (my take anyway). We’ve been to a few markets in Argeles but this was by far the best. I hope I’ve captured some of the atmosphere in the photos and video. It was sad saying goodbye to Kiwin and Deloris (Monsieur and Madame Taik-Colpi) our hosts at the Hotel Beau Site on the following morning, as we packed our bikes in the van and headed across the Pyrenees to Jaca in Spain.
Today we tackled one of the more difficult climbs in the area – to the Ski terminus of Hautacam. the climb is about 13 klms, although we added another klm by riding up to the cafe at La Tramassel on the top of the mountain. It’s 1,520 mtrs above sea level and we ascended !,390 klms from where we started at the base of the climb in the Pau valley. Although it averages 7.5% gradient, there are some quite long stretches of 9 and 10 and even 14%. In all I rode 49 klms in just over 3 hours for an average speed of nearly 16 kms p/hr. My average heart rate was 116 – getting lower which I think indicates I’m getting fitter. The scenery along the way was spectacular as usual, although when I reached the top it was covered in cloud, so I couldn’t see much. After a quick coffee, the ride down was exciting, although I was a little restrained only hitting 62 klm/hr. (think I’m being a bit more cautious, remembering what happened last time I was over here). On our way home, we took a little diversion to do a bit more climbing up to the small town of Saint-Savin before heading home to Argeles Gazost to watch the finish of the Tour de France stage for the day.
On Day 5 we decided to tackle one of the Tour classics – the Col d’Aspin, and because the Tour would be finishing reasonably close-by at Bagneres de-Bigorre, we thought we could take in some of the Tour hype on our ride. To get to Bagneres de-Bigorre, we first rode down the bike path to Lourdes for 8 klms and then over the Col de la Croix Blanche for 13 klms. We stopped off at
Sainte-Marie de-Campan for lunch and then headed up the road towards Col d’Aspin. However we’d left our run too late, as the gendames had closed the road with 8 kms to go, because of the Tour. We headed back along the 20 klms of beautiful fast road to Bagneres de-Bigorre which the Tour riders would be doing in another 4 hours and managed to check out the team buses etc at the finishing line, before heading for home. I managed to take a wrong turn on the way, which gave me another 10 klms of secret training, but I still managed to get back to Argeles Gazost to see the Tour finish on TV at the pub. It was a big day. I rode 114 klms in 5 and a quarter hours, ascended 1,433 mtrs and burned 2,044 calories, some of which I replaced in the pub afterwards.
Day 3 was meant to be a rest day. The group decided on a short ride and then car ride and walk to the lake at Cauterets. As I’d already been there in 2017, I opted to stay home and get this blog underway. However a little distraction was market day in the town square, so I’ve captured a bit of the atmosphere on video.
Argeles Gazost is a small town of about four thousand people, situated at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains in France. It’s a popular stopover for walkers, cyclists and skiers visiting the Pyrenees National Park. We are staying at the same hotel as last time – the Hotel Beau Site, owned and run by a delightful elderly couple, Monsieur and Madame Taik-Colpi. I’m back in my old room 9, this time rooming with Brian Smith from Sydney (two over-seventies together).
We arrived at about 1am on Sunday morning (about five hours later than expected) and promptly fell into bed. The next morning we awoke to Bastile Day Celebrations in the town square and the task of unpacking our bikes for the first day’s ride. We were joined at breakfast by the 2 remaining members of our group of 11 (9 men and 2 better halves), who had arrived at a more sensible hour the night before.
Much of my training for the trip was done on Mt Mee, about 45 klms from my home on Bribie Island. Although only about 3 klms long, the gradient averages about 9% and kicks up to 15% in places, so a few repetitions of the climb is a good workout for the legs.
I’m getting used to packing my bike away in it’s travelling bag, as I’ve taken it to Adelaide for the Tour Down Under for the last few years.
Leaving Bribie around noon on Friday 12th, I’ll be flying to Sydney to meet up with some of the group before a 15 hour flight to Doha, a 3 hour layover before a 7 hour flight to Barcelona and a 6 hour car trip to our little hotel in Argeles Gazost in the French Pyrenees. (40 hours in all so I’ll be looking for a bed when I get there)