Cycling in France,  July 2005 : The Pyrenees Adventure

These are some of the photos taken during the Pyrenees cycling tour in 2005 organized by Erickson Cycle Tours, Inc.

Day -1 : Tuesday July 5 .....  Arrival

Flew into Pau, arriving in the early evening.  The hotel in Maslaqc served a very nice dinner despite our late arrival.
Everones bikes arrived as planned, and some of the earlier arrivals had already been for a ride.

Our hotel in Maslacq

Day 0 : Wednesday July 6 : Warm-up ride

To blow-out the jet-lag and to make sure everything is OK to start the trip, Wick, Richard and I went for a short spin near the hotel.
Maslacq to Orthez to Sauveterre (lunch) to Navarrex to Mourex to Maslacq,  which was about 65 miles and 2700 ft of climbing.
It rained for most of the ride.   In the evening we had the introductory dinner where we all met.

Richard and I enjoying the rain mid way through our ride.
Wick and I enjoying the rollers
Richard...a self-portrait

Wick and I
Mike and Bob getting ready to roll

Day 1 : Thursday July 7 : Maslacq to Argeles-Gazost

Today we encountered the first serious col...the Col d'Aubisque (1709 m) had some triple chevrons!
For a first day of a tour, this was a bit of a bruiser as we rode :
Maslacq to Oloron to Bois du Bager to Louvie-Juzon (lunch) to Col d'Aubisque and Col du Soulor to Argeles-Gazost,
which was 122 km and about 6000 ft of climbing.
It was cold and cloudy at the top  of the d'Aubisque

A park in Morenx prepares for the tour de France to pass by during the stage that ends in Pau.
Dan Sr, Dan Jr and Mark.
( It appears that Dan Sr is demonstrating other uses for map #1 )
Mark and Adam on the top of the Col d'Aubisque, enjoying multiple hot chocolates. It was pretty chilly up there.

Enjoying lunch in  Louvie-Juzon. Wick, Chris and I rolling toward the base of the
Col d'Aubisque
Wick, Chris and I rolling toward the base of the
Col d'Aubisque

The turn to start climbing the Col d'Aubisque. The clouds moves in on the top of the Col d'Aubisque. Cloud cover on the top of the Col d'Aubisque.

Richard on the top of the Col d'Aubisque. Mike and Bob on the top of the Col d'Aubisque. The view from our hotel window in Argeles-Gazost.

Day 2 : Friday July 8 : Argeles-Gazost to Beudean

Argeles-Gazost to Luz-st Sauveur to Col du Tourmalet (2115 m) to Campan to Beudean, which as 44 miles and 6000 ft climbing.
Climbing the Col du Tourmalet was pretty tough, it was warm on the side we climbed, and cold, rainy and cloudy on the decent into St Mary du Campan.
During the early afternoon Wick, Richard, Dan Jr, Brian and I met in Campan and had lunch in the pub, and a couple of beers and/or cokes. 
After this we headed to the hotel to watch the tour.

Rolling away from Argeles-Gazost to
Luz-st Sauveur : Me
Rolling away from Argeles-Gazost to Luz-st Sauveur:
Rolling away from Argeles-Gazost to
Luz-st Sauveur: Adam

Rolling away from Argeles-Gazost to
Luz-st Sauveur
Lindsey and Mike cruising up the
Col du Tourmalet.

Looking up the road

Looking back down the Tourmalet
The top of the Col du Tourmalet.
Richard on the top of the Col du Tourmalet.

Wick at the top
Wick Mike and Bob on the top of the Col du Tourmalet.

Adam on the top of the Col du Tourmalet. Old building at the main intersection in St Mary du-Campan.
Going left take you up the Tourmalet, turning right takes you up the
Aspin, and straight takes you down hill into Beaudean via Campan.
same as previous picture.

Inside the hotel in Beaudean
Inside the hotel in Beaudean

Day 3 : Saturday July 9 : Rest day in Beudean

Today was a very nice rest day, after the last two days of long and hard climbing.  Our plans to explore lourdes were thwarted and
so Wick, Richard and I went for a few mile hike from the hotel.

On the hike
A grand house/castle we found during our hike.
Church in Campan

The Salmon farm just behind our hotel.
A grand house/castle we found during our hike.

It was the beginning of the ``Festival of the Dolls'' in Campan
Dolls bigtime.

Another doll. While this could be mistaken for another contribution
to the ``Festival of the Dolls'', it is actually Richard and
Wick looking well-rested (!) during lunch in Campan.

Outside our hotel, the Le Catala.
The towns water and electricity supply....we think?

Day 4 : Sunday July 10 : Beudean to Gesset

Beudean to Col d'Aspin (1489 m) to Col de Peyresourde (1569 m) to Luchon to Col Bouchard (608 m) to Gesset.
The first climb of the day, Col d'Aspin was alot of fun as it was not particularly steep or long, and the approach is pretty flat.
Unfortunately, it was a little cloudy at the top and we could not see the Tourmalet at all.
The Peyresourde was a little tougher (and we were riding the short side today).  
Lunch at the restaurant at the top was great as the owener has many geometic and know puzzles to solve, and this was a great thing
to do while scoffing down multiple crepes, omelettes, hot name it .. we ate it.
Pace was high along the valley into St Beat and  it was the first of a few times over the Col Bouchard, which was really a ``free'' Col for us!
The hotel in gesset was really nice, pool out the back, nice bar and great dinner.

The base of the d'Aspin
View from the top of the d'Aspin.

Mark summiting. Wick at the top
Brian at the top

Me, Mark and Richard on the top of the d'Aspin.
Half way down the d'Aspin.
Further down the d'Aspin

Further down the d'aspin.
Cruising down.
On the descent

Coffee+Pastries at the base of the Peyresourde.
Heading toward the Peyresourde. The owner of the restaurant  on the top of the Peyresourde
demonstrating his extensive knowledge of spatial puzzles,
and delighting in the failures of his cyclist visitors!                                                                             

Trying to solve the block and knot puzzles at the top
of the Peyresourde..
Chris, Mike and Lindsey also trying to solve the
Wick, Adam and myself at the top.                                                                     

Adam, Richard and myself (Wick taking the photo)
at the top of the Col de Peyresourde, about to head down
into Luchon.
Cruising down the Peyresourde into Luchon.
Our final destination for the day, with a great hotel,
swimming pool., and bar                                                                           

View from hotel window at the Les 7 Molles.
View from hotel window at the Les 7 Molles. View from hotel window at the Les 7 Molles.

Our room.
The front of the hotel.
View from the front of the hotel looking out

Our nightly briefing session on what tomorrow has
in store for us.
Dinner...Lindsey, Dan Jr, Stella, Adam, Dick, Bob,
Susan, and Chris.
Susan was first into the hotel every day.

Day 5 : Monday July 11 : Gesset to St Giron

Gesset to St Beat to Col de Mente (1349 m) to Col de Portet d'Aspet (1069 m) to St Lay to Castillon to Col de la Core (1395 m) to Oust to St Giron.
We rolled out of the Les 7 Mols hotel and started with the gentl Col Bouchard which dropped us into St Beat.  The first climb of the day was the
Col de Mente, which Dan Sr had warned us might be a little unpleasant, and it was.  It was pretty long but continually steep. About 3/4 of the way up was
the plaque marking the site where Ocana fell while leading Merckx in the 1971 tour de France.   The descent of the Mente ends and the climb up the
Portet d'Aspet begins immediately, and it is short by steep with 17% section.  At the bottom is the plaque and monument to Casartelli who crashed and died
during the 1996(?) tour de France.  We had lunch at the top after Bob noticed there was a pizza place open about 200m from the road.  A few of us went over the
de la Core, which, while not steep, was quite long and very scenic, but after the first two climbs caused some difficulty.  We then had an awesome descent into
Seix, and a fast flat burn into St Giron.  The tunnels into St Giron were ``interesting'' as in the second one there was a small section of absolute blackness!
The hotel in St Giron is where Lance and the boyz stay while training....we were hoping for spiritual osmosis.

Richard and I about 2/3 of the way up the Col de Mente,
near the Ocana plaque, as captured by Wick. 
Ocana Plaque on the Col de Mente Memorial to Fabio Casartelli

Plaque Memorial to Fabio Casartelli

Bottom of the d'Aspet
View from the top of the de la Core

Day 6 : Tuesday July 12 : Rest day in St Giron

St Giron is a nice town with a beautiful river running through it.
Today I was starting to feel hungry, and so the first order or business was to get to a Casino and buy, fruit, chocolate, cookies, chips etc,
and to fill up.  Others found the local bike shop, which had  a very tempting Orbea at a good price with a  triple on it!  Others still decided to ride!

St Giron at Night

Day 7 : Wednesday July 13 : St Giron to Foix.

St Giron to Oust to Col de Latrape (1520 m) to Col d'Agnes (1570 m) to Courtal de-Bastard to Port de Lers (1517 m) to
Vicdessos to Tarascon to Foix.
The scenary on todays ride was great.  We burned along the flats and valley to the Col de Latrap, the climb was quite short
and fast (by choice). On the other side the Col d'Agnes was a bit of a tough one with double chevrons.
However, the scenary (and some map reading) required a few stops on the way up!  Just over the top of d'Agnes was a nice
place for lunch on the lake, another place for great scenary.  The last climb, the Port de Lers, was short and not too steep and a
nice way to get moving after lunch. The descent to Tarasson was fast and fun.  The chosen route from Tarascon to Foix had
some unexpected rises, that were leg breakers after what we had just climbed.   Adam, Richard and I made the mistake of
sprinting to pedestrian  crossings after Tarascon, which after about 4 of them left us nearly crippled.
We were very happy to get to Foix, have a shower  and watch the tour on tv. 
Tomorrow is Bastille day and so the town was alive with celebrations.  Most of us went into the town for a couple of quiet beers, to
watch the celebrations and fire-works.  There was a central square with people of all ages dancing to a diverse selection of music
until late in the night.

Looking back from part way up the Col de Latrape.
From the Col d'Agnes
From the Col d'Agnes

From the Col d'Agnes From the Col d'Agnes
Getting close to the top of the  Col d'Agnes

Near the top of the Col d'Agnes Stella and Dick enjoying the views from the top
The top of the  Col d'Agnes

From the top of the Col d'Agnes Adam discovering that he has feet.
Susan and Richard plotting photos on the top of the 
Col d'Agnes

From the Col d'Agnes Steve doing his best Julie Andrews impersonation
(except its the pyrenees and not the alps).

The top of the d'Agnes Looking back

The lake near the restaurant
Richard at lunch
Lunch near the top of the d'Agnes

The lunch spot Dinner at our hotel in Foix, overlooking the river.
From L to R : Wick, Steve, Mark, Bob, Dick, Stella, Chris.
Dan Jr's sillhouette as the sun goes down during dinner

Wick and I enjoying a beer in Foix after a long day in
the saddle
Foix at night.
The Foix castle at night, during the firworks for
Bastille day.

Day 8 : Thursday July 14 (Bastille Day): Rest Day in Foix.

Today is Bastille day.   The towen closed up around noon.  Many of us went to the Foix castle for  a look see. 
Good weather (hot) and the castle was interesting with good views of the local area.  Others went for a bike ride.
Wick, Richard and I had lunch in the town, and then headed back to watch a few hours of the tour.

Steve and Dan jr enjoying Bastille day. 
The dudes look a little toasted.
The Foix castle
From the Foix Castle

From the Foix Castle The Foix castle  The Foix castle

The Foix castle

From the Foix castle looking over Foix
Wick watching the tour on tv.
Richard and I visitng the castle


Day 9 : Friday July 15:  Foix to Gesset

After riding east through the pyrenees, it is time to make our way back.
Foix to Col de Port (1250 m) to St Girons to Portet d'Aspet (1069 m) to Col de Buret (599 m) to Col des Ares (797 m) to Col Bouchard (608) to Gesset.
This was about 87 miles with 7100 ft of climbing.
The last three Cols of the day were like bumps!  The first climb, de Port was very nice, 9.4km with a max grade of 8%. 
It was a nice pace at the bottom but fast at the top.  It was quite a long ride from the top of the de Port to St Girons, where we all stopped for lunch and water.
Leaving St Girons we headed up the Portet d'Aspet, going over the other way.  This was a pretty steep climb (not as steep as coming up the other side) but it was steep enough
and it was blistering hot.  At the top was ice cold mountain water, and also Steve was there with the van.  The descent was very fast (17% sections), and the speed was high down
this tricky stretch of road.  We opted to do the slightly longer ride over the last three cols.  The des Ares seemd a little long coming at the end of the day.

Just outside St Girons, on the way to the Portet d'Aspet.
Richard after making use of the alternate function of Map 1.
The problem was he used Map 2!! 
Steve at the top of the Portet d'Aspet
Looking back down the road up the d'Aspet

The top!

Day 10 : Saturday July 16:  Gesset to St Lary

This was a very hard day, and I found this to be the hardest day.
Gesset to Bossost (Spain) to Col du Portillon (1320 m) to Luchon to Col de Peyresourde (1569 m) to Col d'Azet (???? m) to St Lary-Soulan.
When we woke up the weather was marginal, and it was touch and go as to whether to do the long or the short route for the day. 
The long ride was long and hard and would not have been fun in rain and cold.  We opted to go long, and within half an hour it was blistering hot.
We dropped into Spain and went over the Col du Portillon, and this had an awesome descent, fast with many hairpins.
We dropped into Luchon and I was feeling a little dizzy, probably from the heat and from yesterday. 
The climb up the Peyresourde starts right in Luchon, and it was a very long and exposed climb.  We then went over the Col d'Azet (vaol Louren ski area),
which is a hideous climb after what we had just done.   
I stopped with about 1.5 km to go to the top to have an ice cream and watch the tour on tv.
The descent was hot and fast.  This was the only time I went off the road a little..the road had melted and I slid into gravel
on the side of the road about half way down, but stayed up.
Todays riding was about 1/2 of the toughest stage of this years tour, which did the Mente, d'Aspet, Portillon, Peyresourde,
Azet and Plat d'Adet.

3km to go before the top of the Peyresourde (17 km done)
Looking toward the top with 3km to go
Loooking off to the side with 3 km to go

Me with 3km to go
Me with 3 kms to go.....destroyed
About 2 kms to go, looking up the final few,
quite flat switch backs.

Looking back with 2 km to go
Looking back with 1 km to go
Looking ahead with 1 km to go.

Top of the Peyresourde
Climbing the Col d'Azet.  6km to go and the next km
averages  10% grade
4 km to go with 8% average for the next km

2 km to go with 6% for the next 1
A tired man with 2 km to go to the summit of Col d'Azet.

Wick in St Lary
The Plat d'Adet
St Lary

St Lary
A quiet celebratory beer in St Lary.
Dan  takes charge of the beer-tube.
In the picture : Chris, Dan , Lindsey
and Dan.
St Lary the night before the tour
comes to town!

Day 11 : Sunday  July 17:  Rest day in St Lary : Tour de France day

Today we get to rest in St Lary-Soulan and watch the tour de France pass through on its way to finish on the top of the
Plat d'Adet.  This stage was won by George Hincapie, which was great, and we got to see Lance do some more damage to his rivals.

People starting to gather to see the tour
Wick and Richard with matching wardrobes
Looking at the top of the Plat d'Adet

St Lary
The Plat d'Adet
Lance supporters

The church in St Lary
Steve and Richard in the traffic circle near our hotel.
The top of the Plat d'Adet on this roasting hot day.

Brouchard, Hincapie, Boogard, Sevilla, Peirera
Support vehicle
Someone off the back of the first break.

An awesome photo....
Ulrich, Armstrong, Basso rounding the traffic circle to start their
way up the Plat d'Adet.
The signs to Plat d'Adet at 1700 m
Lindsay and the back of Steve.

The group lead by Moreau containing Magnuson.
More support
More support

Lance on TV in the hotel hammering up the Plat d'Adet.
The team buses were a block from our hotel.
Except for the big stars, the riders rode down the Plat d'Adet
from the finish to the buses to move to Pau for the next start.
team bus

Team bus.

Day 12 : Monday  July 18:  St Lary to Garvarnie

We rolled out of St Lary with an exciting day ahead of us :
St Lary-Soulan to Hourquette d'Ancizon (1538 m)  to Col du Tourmalet (2115 m) to Luz St-Sauveur to Garvarnie.
The scenary today was first rate, the Hourquette was a great climb into the clouds out of St Lary, we then dropped down into
St Mary du Campan at the base of the Col d'Aspin, and then turned up to climb back over the Col du Tourmalet.
Bruce from Brisbane inspired high speeds up the climb...he cracked near La Mongie.
The drop into Luz St-Sauveur was awesome, with some others descending insanely.
After mutliple hot chocolates in Luz St-Sauveur we rode to Garvarnie, which is a long but shallow climb...
but as advertised was punishing on the legs.
The hotel in Garnarnie  was excellent, one of the high points of the tour.

Looking down from mid way up the
Hourquette d'Ancizon
Me on the top of the Col du Tourmalet. Me on the top of the Col du Tourmalet.

On the way up to Garvarnie
No need for words
The horses move through Garvarnie at about
5pm every day

Our hotel in Garvarnie

The cirque
The cirque

Looking down toward the stream running next to our
hotel room.

Day 13 : Tuesday  July 19:  Rest day in Garvarnie

It was a beautiful lazy day for many, with a rest day in garvarnie. 
The countryside and mountains were fantastic, and many took the opportunity
to do some great hiking.   The top of the Cirque is the Spanish border.

The stream running through town.
The stream

Dan Sr enjoying lunch
The taxidermists are well employed
in Garvarnie

The stream
Cool fox.

Day 14 : Wednesday  July 20:  Garvarnie to Maslacq

The last day of riding on this trip saw us go over the Soulor and spend a fair amount of time in the saddle.
Garvarnie to Luiz St Sauvere to Ancizons to the Col du Soulor (1474 m) to Louvie-Juzon to Monein to Maslacq:
about 95 miles and 6500ft : 6hr 2 mins.
Tonight was our farewell dinner, with many of the group leaving tomorrow form home or someother destination.

Climbing toward the base of the Soulor, looking over to the right
Same place as previous, but looking slightly more
to the left.
Mike and Lindsey omn the top of the

Scenes from the top of the Soulor.

Steve, Dick, Wick, Susan, Dan Sr at the top.
Dick, Steve and Dan Sr.
Wick and Dan.

An unknown cyclist
Farewell dinner in Maslacq
Steve and Mike.

Richard, Dan Jr, Wick and Dick waiting for beer to arrive
The beer has arrived
Brian, Wick and Steve.

Richard and the Dans

Day +1 : Thursday  July 21:  Pau

The trip is over and most people have left.  Richard and I spend the day in Pau.

Enjoying lunch in Pau.

Richard doing the tourist thing

Day +4 : Sunday  July 24:  Paris

The final stage of the Tour de France, finishing on the Champs Elysee.