So I last wrote a few days ago while I was in Tarbes. Later that day I rode to Lourdes which wasn't that far of a ride. I decided to stay there for 2 nights and take some time to see the city and then ride up to the finish of a stage at le Col d'Aubisque. I really liked this town and it has been by far the best one yet. Found a hotel near the train station and spent the rest of the afternoon/evening wandering around the town. This place is a zoo of catholic tourists/pilgrimages. I wasn't aware of this but apparently Lourdes is the place where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette at the "Grotto". Now there is a huge Basilica built on top of the spot and there are tons of people visiting it everyday. I must have walked into about 10 different services going on at different locations and in different languages. I also took the time to take the tram (Funiculare) to the top of small mountain overlooking the town. It was a nice view but not worth the 9 euros it cost to get up and then back down again, yes they charge you to get down. Anyways I spent the rest of the evening parusing the millions of little gift shops they have for the basilica then went to bed. The next day I woke up and started to ride towards the Col d'Aubisque. It was really cold that morning and I had thought that I had better bring extra clothing to the summit (learned my lesson from before). Well naturally it was the hottest day yet and I had the extra few pounds of clothes and water to drag to the top. It was a harder climb then the one before but I guess my legs were getting used to the pain and I made it up without having to stop. One spot even ageraged a 13% gradient over a 1km stretch. In oreder to get to Col d'Aubisque (from Lourdes) you have to 1st climb up the Col de Soulor; The 7km stretch between the 2 passes is an amazing road. 3km downhill then a hillside hugging meandering laneway averaging 1-4% gradient over the last 4km. There were some amazing views, tunnels built in through the mountain side, and deathly drops into the valley below. I couldn't wait for the fast descent coming home! Anyways I got the to finish line and scoped out a sweet spot onto of the pumphouse directly beside the finish line. Made friends with a british father and son who were down on holiday. No matter how oten we put the sunscreen on we still managed to aquire some sweet burnlines in the 4 hours we waited for the rider to arrive.
The ride back to Lourdes was yet another amazing one. The road back to the Col de Soulor was a little sketchy due to all the people having to walk the 7km back to their cars but once you got past them it was smooth sailing. Tight corners, fast straightaways, hairpins...only the stuff we dream about in the relatively flat lands of Ontario. If you take the right lines you actually pass the cars! Once at the bottom I latched onto a small group of riders who were also heading into Lourdes and we made great time just working together.
Today I am off to Bordeaux for the night...maybe have a chance to try some wine...and then its off to Angoulème on Friday. Hopefully one of these places has internet otherwise the next time will be in Paris!
t t f n...ta ta for now