Day 4 saw us travel between Bagneres de Luchon and Foix by, as my travel insurance terms it, cycling (main mode of transport). This trip has so far been one of contrasts. Yesterday we were freezing on the Tourmalet in rain and today sun and panoramic views across the Pyrenees.
These mountains are full of cycling legend and folklore. In 1910 Octave Lapize was so distressed by the organisers for including the Tourmalet in the first mountain stage of the Tour de France that he called them, “assassins”. But contrasted with the hardship are the magical images. As we descended yesterday and reached the first patch of sun on a road surrounded by pine trees I could see the members of our group disappearing through the mist.
Other contrasts might be considered more personal. My favourite so far is the different nocturnal sounds made by my, three to date, different room partners. I have discovered that everyone makes their own unique little squeaks, snorts and breathing sounds. I will rank another tonight!
The statistics for today include more than 140 km cycled with climbs of the Col de Portet d’Aspet and the beautiful Col de la Crouzette. The sun also brought the butterflies with clouded yellows and a yet to be identified fritillary.
Finally, the quotes of the day. On starting to climb on a section with a 10 degree incline having been on a 17 degree incline, “oh good we’re on a flat bit”, (anonymous). Then there was, “having ridden behind James Coulson’s bottom for 40km I can confirm that there is definitely no frog sporn!” (Ed – see previous posts).
Ernest Hemingway said that, “it is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them”. Now the sun is out we can see the contours of the Pyrenees and its wildlife in all its glory. What a contrast.