July 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm #15113
On our first day down here we headed up past LaMongie and up to the summit at Tournalet. Champs had got a screen grab on his smartphone of our altitude, but he had taken from a few metres below the actual peak and it was bothering him! So we all agreed to make our way back up the same pass once more. The funny thing is that it felt like a completely different place today…the weather was different, the gravel had been ground in by passing cars and rollered and swept in anticipation of the tour passing here in a few days time.
The road was much more fun to ride today and this time we could take the bikes right to the top, even if the route back down through the valley was still blocked. So it was good to be here again, they had even put up a new statue here since our last visit. Champs got his piccie and we were all happy! I will let him post his prized image!
FZ1S looks out pondering what it’s future will hold..’I hope my new owner is a bit lighter…’
Not one of the Malvern Hills bits!
I could of sworn that chair lift was not there last time we came!
The new statue and one of the few cyclists slower than us!
Obviously my turn to be the German officer
God I will really miss riding around here…stunning
They really had to squeeze the heavy construction equipment under this tunnel, there were only mm to spare
Champs and I really went for it on the way down this time and yet again we pushed the bikes hard as we catapulted from bend to bend. Unlike many people I prefer the downward legs to the rises…it’s just more exciting!
From here we made our way to Col d’Aspin…a challenging ride to the submit and again the bikes were being pushed once more, although rarely getting out of third gear…real point and squirt stuff. It is very technical riding and sometimes the big old FZ was tough to chuck around a 90 degree and sharply elevated hairpin. Such roads are so thrilling to ride though. Like Champs said elsewhere, very little riding exists in the UK like this, especially in such lengthy sections…you can often spend 20 minutes or so stretching both the bike and yourself, and to be honest it really takes it out of you, shoving 200kg of motorbike about, but what a buzz!
Once at the top here we had a rest halt. Suddenly a strong female midland accent could be heard…
“You’re a long way from home…!”
She was an ex-pat originally from Nuneaton and now working as a tour guide for groups of cyclists keen to take on sections of the Tour De France. We got chatting to her and she told us that the flooding had been really awful because of the speed of the melt …snow banks of 10 METRES (over 30ft!!) had melted in just 2 days…and the resulting waters had roared down from the mountains and taken out all its path…scarey stuff.
The ride down this section into Arreu was one of the highlights of the whole week for me. I really went for it, trying to ignore the big drops if I got it wrong. This was biking perfection as we attacked the best section of roads we had come across so far. I was really focused and Champs once again was my wingman with the GS and CBF flying too…what an awesome section of road. Towards the lower section the gravel returned to rather spoil the fun, but it had been brilliant up to then. We even got to admire some rather attractive female American cyclists. I am sure they thought I was really cool when I passed one with my back wheel spinning up on gravel…I was actually sh!tting myself!
At another rest halt near Loudenville we watched dozens of paragliders launch from a nearby peak. We later discovered that some sort of championship was going on. I think Ses or Champs may have a better picture of this than me
Lots of paragliders…60 or more
The drivers of these huge Volvo construction vehicles were not taking prisoners as they hurtled down the maountain passes
Even more chilling out and planning
More road closures forced us back up the pass we had just come down…oh dear…not! More fun was had as we screamed up the hill, I was really in the grove by now. Then we took the road to St.Lary and playtime really came to a halt. This superb mountain pass would have been a staggering ride normally, but for some reason it had been completely gravel strewn and we nervously and VERY slowly picked our way across it. Speeds at times were barely into double figures so tough was the going. The consequences for getting it wrong were severe too as steep drops into the valley below was your reward for a momentary lapse of concentration. Also I think it was today when Thumpers sat nav actally led us onto the roof of a mountain side apartment block…or did I just imagine that?
So it was back to Campan, another thrilling days riding done. Our last day on these roads and it had been quite superb, especially attacking the run up to Col d’Aspin…that will live with me for many a day.
Ses cooked a superb curry with a little help from Thumper and we just enjoyed our last night in the digs in front of the fire and drinking beer…can’t be bad.
Champs and his beloved fire…
Chilling over a beer…
Tomorrow we head back north enroute to Caen, via Lamoges and the world famous LeMans. I will be a bit sad to leave Shed2, Campan itself, these stunning mountains and challenging roadsJuly 19, 2013 at 12:36 am #66511HippoDronesParticipant
stunning picJuly 19, 2013 at 7:22 am #66512ChampsParticipant
As requested, I couldn’t ride my motorbike that high up and not get the correct altitude! Although for the record the slight downfall of the only carb mixed bike in the group at that altitude meant the throttle had only 3 settings, flat out, sluggish and kangaroo hop.
a glimpse behind the scenes of our photos, and the rapidly catching German officer pose, although all it needs is a yellow ticket on the screen and there would be completely different meaning.July 19, 2013 at 4:43 pm #66513ses310Moderator
Such a stunning place, really miss it now! That road was a million % better 2nd time around so well worth going up a 2nd time for a picJuly 21, 2013 at 8:16 am #66514MartinParticipant
Another great write up Tony and yes the Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aspin are fantastic routes Just 20 mins from our house!!
Re the “new statue”. It’s not new, it gets taken down every winter and then put back in time for the summer season. not entirely sure why – preserving it / cleaning ?? Odd French tradition?? Who knows. Perhaps they think someone might nick it!
Glad you had such a great trip – it is a fantastic regionNovember 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm #66515
I REALLY want to get back out on bike in Europe reading this again!November 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm #66516ChampsParticipant
I really want …. A log fire!November 3, 2013 at 11:23 pm #66517
I really want …. A log fire!
You were really smitten with that fire…it was great base camp you found for us Champs
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