Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Riding to the Tour - Part 3

The light shining through the golden pattern on the curtains promised much, but instead we were greeted with cool temperatures and a flat featureless sky. The weather matched our mood, a mix of beer and wine had served to ensure we were not feeling our best when we left Cahors.

Cahors is a nice town. Built on a hill, it has that Mediterranean air and, despite the screaming two-stroke scooters blasting up and down the street, it also felt a little sleepy. That feeling was accentuated by the fact most of the bars and restaurants were closed as it was Monday.

Whatever, Ian managed to find a foie gras and duck pizza. I had lamb chops and we shared bottle of local red wine. Cahors is the home of Malbec, and ours showed nothing of the tough, tannic character of yore, so avoid the Argentinian tat and keep it local (ish.)

Jaded as we were, the first part of our ride down to Lourdes was spent on the motorway. We turned off at Montauban, which owns one of the most disgusting and endless retail areas: mile after mile of car parks and plastic buildings selling stuff no one needds. The city itself looks lovely and the sun finally broke through, so it can't be all that bad.

Our great ride across country to Auch then Tarbes was sullied by increasing anxiety, as my bike began to cut out when slowing down.  Riding round a roundabout pressing the starter button is not a great feeling. It turned out I'd fed the thing too much 95RON petrol and good dose of Super sorted it.

Summer in France
The top of the Tourmalet was in cloud and it was cold, though there was no shortage to of people. All the way up from Campan camper vans lined the roads, hundreds of them, flags out, people sitting on deck chairs: an impromptu community all created for a bike race still two days away.

The descent to the base of the Hautacam has been resurfaced and is a delight to ride a motorbike on. It's fast for a mountain road and plunges down the mountain predictably, bend after bend to hone those skills and scare the goats. It could be the best road I've ever ridden.

Lourdes is full to bursting,people everywhere, out hotel is full. The tour is in town.

Today the weather and roads came together to create an great day on the bike. Tomorrow we hope to find somewhere to watch the Tour stage, near the bottom of Pla d'Adet.

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