A simple transfer from Kopenhavn to Luchon proved not so simple after all, courtesy of our luggage going missing somewhere in the middle, the middle being Charles-de-Gaul, perhaps precipitated by Bastille Day airshow festivities which resulted in flight delays. Mental note. Inexplicably none of the TVs in the Toulouse airport sports bar were functioning, so we missed the Ventoux finish as well. At least neither Kev nor Ham went missing, and after filling out requisite forms we made the 100 minute hire car transit south to Luchon where Gk and the Gite were waiting. The luggage fiasco was far from over. A full day passed and it seemed most probable that our baggage, including all things cycling (helmet, shoes, saddle, clothing) would probably not be making an appearance for almost another full day. Quelle horreur! Multiple phone calls and me losing my cool..albeit as respectfully as I could muster, resulted in said bags finally delivered later that evening.
Supplied with zero info by Air France and fearing the worst the mudge and I had by this stage already splurged a bunch of euros so that we could at least take the hire bikes for a street shoe trundle in the afternoon. Of course the daily pm thunderstorm had other ideas and caught us after 5 clicks. We turned for home convinced it just wasn't meant to be. Anita and I took showers and hit the phones whilst Ham, Kev and GK, upbeat over suddenly dry roads, opted for a sneaky lap of the Col du Portillon just out of town, but got caught out by Mother Nature again on the way down.
The next day (Tues 16th) had us filled to the gunnels with baguettes, croissants, pain chocolates and pain raison, before doing a 100 km loop Gk had picked out. We headed north to St Beat before going over the Col du Mente (9 km at 9%), Portet de Aspet (4 km at 9%) and the Col des Ares (7 km at 4.5%), before heading for home, but not before sitting out another thunderstorm. About 2000 m for the day. Excellent risotto ala Kev finished proceedings, washed down by lots of beer and the red stuff.
With the afternoon thunderstorm almost a given we hit the trails an hour earlier the next day (Wed 17th....this is my way of keeping track of proceedings), rolling out at 9:15. This time we stayed a northerly valley path before hitching onto the gentle introduction to the upper goat track known as the Port de Bales (1755 m), with a tough last half dozen Kms. Finally some quality cows and their chimes. Hard to believe the tour has been over this one. A terrific descent had us hitting the lower slopes of the Peyresourde (1570 m), which from the south is more "alps" in style, with a constant grade of approx 7.5 %. The more even nature seemed to suit GK, although perhaps it was more the potion he popped on the summit of the Bales coming into play. That said we were all pretty rogered come the top and had a bit of a crepe and hot chip party before returning to earth. The mudge and I headed straight for home, whilst Gk, Ham and Kev, did another 10 high altitude clicks before engaging in duelling camera antics on the mega funtastic descent. Again, 100 km and a bit over 2000m of up. One more like this and maybe a trip to the local spa will be the tonic.
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