Leg 2 of the Pyrenees

Trip Start Apr 11, 2012
Trip End Oct 10, 2012

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Couchsurfing host

Flag of France  , Midi-Pyrénées,
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I am now in Aucun, a little town nestled right in a high valley, rimmed by high mountains on either side. Not that I could see any of it when I arrived Sunday. Most of the day was obscured by a dense fog that was so thick it was like riding through a light shower. Wild weather up here! At least it wasn't too long of a ride, and I arrived at my new hosts’ house a bit early at 2 pm. Luckily they, Olivier and Helene, were there and very hospitable. They were going to a friend’s house and invited me along. We drove up the hill a bit and got to what looked like a barn. The lady who owned the place had converted an old barn into a house, and she did an amazing job. Too bad that I didn’t bring my camera, for it was something to look at. The interior was kept like the original barn as much as possible. The most impressive was the upper floor, where you could see the inside of the steep roof. Shaved logs were the inner structure and some were laid horizontally as additional support. It is hard to describe the place, but I would like to have such a place someday…no close neighbors and a great view of the valley below once the fog cleared.

The lady who owns the place had been married to an American, so her English was good, but the most amazing thing about this experience was that all three of my French hosts chose to keep all their conversations in English so I could understand everything. Even when they were discussing topics specific to them, they kept all the conversation in English. That is a level of hospitality that I haven’t seen yet, but I was most impressed.

The next day was a big ride day for me, as I had planned a ride to a lake, then 5 mountain passes. My host, Olivier, volunteered to ride a couple passes with me on his mountain bike. It is nice to have a riding companion for a change. This was probably the most beautiful ride of the Pyrenees, with Col de Aubisque being the highlight. The road was closed due to a couple landslides and an avalanche, but we were able to cross all these obstacles on foot. The summit of Aubisque was not much over a mile high and as the highest pass of the day, was not much compared to Tourmalet or Troumouse. At the top, I talked to a couple Irish motorcycle riders who were nearing the end of a two week tour of Europe. They had already been through Germany, the Alps, and had even been in Spain. I am starting to think that I would like to buy a motorcycle when I return home. It is probably the best way to see America anyhow. This biking thing is nice in its own way, but it is just too damn slow if you want to see places.

By the end of the day, I had ridden 57 miles and climbed 9000 feet. Not bad for me. As a sign of how crazy other people are compared to me, I met a 52 year old French guy who had ridden up from the plains, gone up Tourmalet, then had done almost the same ride I did this day (we communicated this with no English…gesturing is an amazing communication tool). So, I think that is 90 miles and 13,000 feet of climbing. I will never seem extreme as long as there are other people like this out there.

A friend of Olivier’s, Thibaut (pronounced like Tebow, so I showed him some Tebowing), came over the next day to do a hike up a snow-covered peak with Olivier. I was not equipped or capable of doing such a hike, so I visited the nearby market (has been on Tuesdays since the 14th century) did one last climb, Hautacam, and called it a day. Thibaut offered to host me at his studio apartment near Toulouse, which is where I was heading next to catch the train to Marseille.
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LeAnn on

I've told you about some of my motorcycle adventures. Slightly better than biking as far as suffering goes. Just get yourself a great sports car and tour.

Brian on

If you decide to get a bike (with a motor) I'd love to join up for some two wheeled adventures. Better took into an adventure bike though so riding isn't limited to tarmac!

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