St Gaudens to Bagneres de Luchon

What another brilliant day! But before I get into that, a few little oddities from our accomodation in St Gaudens. The accomodation was run by two very strict ladies. You darned not cross them. They swore prolifically in French. They had unusual taste in light fittings!

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There were a number of these! The big fluffy balls were ‘curious’

They also win the prize for the smallest bath award:

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Yes I know you bath with your clothes off but this photo was merely for ‘illustration’ purposes only.

Notwithstanding that they did take good care of our babies:

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Yes the bikes are in their breakfast room.

I think they may have underestimated the eating power of cyclists. We were strictly allocated one croissant, one piece of cheese, one slice of ham, one tub of natural yoghurt, 2 pieces baguette. I did manage to obtain a second coffee but that was because I had not had orange juice. I noticed the older lady carefully counting grapes too… but they were a bit soft and most of us passed.

When we packed up our room to depart, this was the view.

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We left St Gaudens via the same roads we had entered and headed off towards Valentine. It was cold at 9 degrees and we had bare legs, but well rugged up on our top half.

We ideally would liked to have dumped our front paniers for today’s climb. However it was an unknown factor as to whether the van would be at the top for us to grab warmer clothes for the descent. So we erred on the conservative side and chose to carry provisions for the full day.

We rode through Valentine (6.1 km), Ardiege (8.9 km), Cier de Rivière (9.8 km) arriving at Col de la Hountared at 12.6 km.

We turned right climbing through woods ( what a surprise) but what a nasty little climb this turned out to be, with a 17 % section!

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That is me climbing the last hundred metres or so.
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A close up would show me grimacing!!

Around the area of Labroquere (17.1 km) we noted the old Roman funeral pile looking more like a section of a fence.

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Saint Bernard de Comminges was an impressive village with a cathedral overlooking ancient roman ruins.

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Remains from an ancient Roman village
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Just over the road, unexcavated Roman ruins

We continued through a number of villages including Sarp (21.6 km), Aveux (22.7 km) travelling through narrow wooded valleys along the side of a river.

At Mauleon Barousse (29.1 km) we stopped as the Bike Adventures van was there. After a chat with Andy we motored on as I was not keen for my knee to cool down.

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Mauleon-Barousse
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Mauleon-Barousse

We turned right at this village and came across this sign, indicating the commencement of our 19 km climb.

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The sign indicates that our current altitude was 576 metres but we were heading to 1775 metres over 19 km of climbing

As with all climbs, Tony has a leave pass to do what he wants. I like to climb on my own, cognisant of my knee and asthma. Today it was to be my back though that would cause me pain!

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The views were great

As you climb it is important to stay mentally focused. Each km there is a sign indicating what exactly average incline is for the next km. The first few were only 3 -to 4 percent. Then they increased to 7,8,9 and 10 percent!

About half way up a couple of ‘young’ cyclists from Canada passed me and cheered me on, in French. Around one of the hairpin bends Tony was waiting to take photos of me grimacing!

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I must be hot as I have unzipped my clothing. Sorry Hannah!! Modesty goes out the window in favour of ‘comfort’

I followed Tony for a bit and we came across these cows. They were so cute, with the adults having bells that were ringing. It explained all the cow pats on the road that I had seen too. They seem to just wander and go where they want.

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Also note the TDF road markings

 

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Nice view looking back 
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Can you see me? I am a speck climbing up

This next photo is as I entered the last km of the climb.

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Looking back down 
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Only a few hundred metres to go
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Made it! 

I was very glad to get to the top. My back had been having muscular spasms for over half the ride. I lay down on the grass and did some stretching.

There were numerous cyclists at the top all congratulating each other!

Time to descend. More clothes back on as it is always colder when descending.

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The view on the descending side

 

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Descending 
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Some friendly random cyclists who were also descending
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View from one of the villages descending 

We had a fast descent into Bagneres de Luchon. We were the first of the cyclists to arrive and knew we had a bit of time to kill before the van arrived. We stopped at a restaurant and had lunch and then pootled to the accomodation where we did some bike maintenance and enjoyed the sun.

Tomorrow is a rest day. The weather forecast is not brilliant putting a dampener on our previous plans, but we will wait and see what the day brings!

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Today’s climb
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Today’s route 

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4 thoughts on “St Gaudens to Bagneres de Luchon

  1. Long Troc

    Nice climb! And some good good climbing that you have done today. That miniature bath tub reminds me of my uncle who used to live in Paris, apparently the old people over there still use tub like that to save water! Thank you for a lovely report 🙂

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  2. Enjoy your rest day and hope your back settles down before the next leg. What amazing scenery and sorry but I laughed out loud as you described the hosts at your accommodation. Great moments for the memory bank!! I am so going to pick your brain about getting my blog up and going when you come home. I know I said that last time, but really going to try and nail it before the next trip. Look fwd to the next instalment. BTW I think that size bath might suit me fine – I want one….LOL Cheers Cherie

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  3. Mark Hughes

    Well done Shaz (and Tony!). I have done Port de Bales – so I can relate to that climb (though it may have been the reverse direction to you guys?…. and without panniers!!! which I suspect might have been a nice advantage!!!!). The cows like to lick your legs at the top!!…. you look like a big walking salt block to them!! Obviously more than just cows on the coarse… with those puppies hanging out Shaz!!!… I bet they were barking and had their tongues hanging out by the time they got to the top!!!
    You know the French have a special name for that small bath Tony was sitting in – its called a “shower”!!!…. thank goodness he was dressed… would be enough to put you off your brioche otherwise!!!!

    Like

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