Into the Pyrenees

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of France  , Midi-Pyrénées,
Saturday, October 3, 2009

Today was the day to head into the mountains.  Having never cycled in mountains before, I was quite dubious about the task.  Especially considering my track record.  So far on this trip, ‘hills’ have caused me great pain and anxiety.  So in comparison, ‘mountains’ seemed like they might be a mite bit worse.

Pulling away from the bustle of city life, and the crowded together towns, it was quite refreshing to have some quiet again.  Sparsely scattered homes on the edges of ridges reminded me of the quiet tranquility of a home that I’m dreaming of.  As we rose and rose the scenery become more and more stunning as the growing mountain range beyond made itself more and more known beyond the horizon. 

Climbed and climbed all morning only to plummet into a large river valley, thus loosing all the altitude that we’d gained (at least that’s how it felt, I can‘t tell for sure).  But that brought us to a cute little village with one tiny store that sold everything that’s important in life:  wine, cheese and bread.  Had a great laugh with the staff trying to communicate with me attempting to decipher the different types of local cheeses and how they were made.  Sound effects and pantomimes of cow, sheep and goat helped to get the point across!

After lunch, I seemed to be having great difficulty with cycling.  No sure what was wrong, I racked it up to being tired and plodded along (with only the odd remark about speed from Brian).  Progress was so slow, and we weren’t even going through hilly terrain!  After a good hour, Brian noticed that my front tire was flat!  He then had the gaul to lecture me about how I have to be more careful.  This from the guy who has replaced 3 tubes, patched one, as well as replaced a tire?!?!  (Not to mention numerous other cycle parts)  Turns out that there wasn’t even a hole - perhaps a very slow leak, but nothing either of us could detect.  However, even after inflation, cycling wasn’t any easier for me.  Problem number 2 was that one of my front breaks was stuck.  With those things fixed, it was like I had a new bike and I was ready to conquer the upcoming hills. 

Navigating from St. Girone to the town of Masset, I thought we had it made.  A very gradual and consistent climb up the river valley, I hardly even had to move out of 3rd gear.  If this is what mountain cycling is like, there’s no problem at all!  However, at Masset that all changed.  We began the climb to one of the Col's (pass) where the family we're going to stay with lives.  Rising from 600m to 950m in a distance of only a few km’s certainly got the heart racing!

But it was worth it.  I had the satisfaction of actually being able to do that kind of cycling with a loaded bike, and as always the mountain views take my breath away.  A little house nestled in the tree-covered valleys with peaks rising up behind is where we will stay, and a hayloft will be our room for the next little while.  Tonight the full moon shines in through the window, the wild stags bugle their lullabies, and I rest...

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