Sunday, 22nd July, 2007 Paul and Greg went off for a bike ride on Sunday. Just a little one, some 60km, up a couple of Cols (including Tourmalet at 2115m above sea level). This left Audrey, Monica and I to entertain ourselves. We got in my little Ford Ka, and made our way up the Tourmalet, stopping a few times on the way to look at the view.
There were a load of cyclists going up the Tourmalet. Most sensibly, carrying the minimum load. Some had lots of panniers and there was one with a trailer and small child in tow. It's a long climb from up to the Tourmalet, something like an 8% gradient with a kilometre of up from where we were staying in Barèges - so climbing the Col was a real achievement, we were amazed at how many people were doing it.
At the top, we took some lunch in the café there, and then went for a walk on the path leading from the Col up to the Pic du Midi. We didn't go too far, maybe a few kilometres. I found it quite tough going, having gained a lot of altitude in a short time. Toward the end of my stay in the mountains I had adjusted to the thinner air, and then it was time to descend. I certainly was impressed by the cyclists who had cycled up there!
We continued east, going through La Mongie (not the most attractive of towns). La Mongie has a section of road which is really wide, with no road markings. It's like driving across a playground - quite disconcerting. We stopped at a small dam below the town and wandered about there for a bit, admiring the view.
At St. Marie de Campan we turned around and headed back. We'd only driven down one road, but we had taken it slowly and stopped frequently. We'd also taken ourselves on a high walk (albeit not very far and along a wide track). We were quite surprised to find that we'd been out for most of the day, it was early evening when we returned to the house.