It's now a tradition that we take a break at Easter (you get a lot of holiday for your money with the bank holidays and all). We generally spend some time with my old Da in Le Busseau (near Poitier) then j(once I have eaten all his food and had enough of his smelly pooches) jog on down to the Pyrenees.
Last year we spent some time in the Barousse Valley ( with some scary B&B owners) and this year we headed across the valley east to Puivert near Foix.
Now Easter is very early this year so we did not really know what to expect of the weather. Martin ( this years B&B owner - not a psycho ) tells us they have had some days of 25 degrees since Xmas!
We arrived on the Sunday night at about 4 o clock and I was encouraged to get a ride in before dinner! Off I set (found a 6 mile climb) at this point the heavens opened up and ended to 19 degree sunshine we had Been having up to now! We had brought the weather with us.
Next day Martin suggested a route that would take in 2 or 3 large climbs and end on the hors category plateau de belle 1700m. Wendy to be following in the car by then, it was a pleasant ride taking in the Pas de Soloumbre 1000 metres (highest Wendy has clmbed so chapeau to her) we then dropped like a stone off of the edge of the mountain into Cabannes and the foot of the Plateau de Beille (I am so glad that I didn't have to climb back up that drop it averaged 15% on the way down).
I then made my way up the Plateau, it's at this point I realised that the 39 @ 25 ratio was going to make this a difficult week, the col had snow from 1000 metres and at the top lots of skiing going on. After crepes and coffee having suitably let myself get nice and cold i decided to ride back to Puivert avoiding the previous said descent like a soap dodger dodging soap!
The next day I was given a 75 mile route that takes in 6 cols, (Wendy had made a French friend by then and they were being more sedate).
The weather started out hot I mean I thought I had way too much clothes on and I was getting tanned, the route was superb after the first col (col de Paradis) I was feeling great but too hot, then the mountains decided to show me a display of its awesome power by trying to drown me, I mean I was so wet I might of well have been swimming, and still 5 cols and 50 miles to go. Then the sun came out and burnt me to a crisp, I was cold to the core yet unbelievably sweating my nads off..... The mist as the rain was burning off of the road was. Ecoming a problem as my Rudy Projects were misted up, I was beginning to feel like a Benny Hill sketch.
I had the. Company of some rather large Raptors, I realise they were eyeing me up as a prospective meal!
Another 10k in the bag it decided to thunder and lightening all the way around me, it rattled up and down the valley in a very frightening manner, I was now completely drenched and turned my iPod up in order not hear the Awful thunder!
I was so far into the ride that there was no escape I had to finish what I started, no cafes no shops...... Just pain and wet, I started to think What would Jens Voight do ..... But let's face it I'm no Jens Voight.
Inevitably the mountains hadn't finished with me I was roasting and shivering again at the same time........ Only to be broken by another complete soaking just before the very las Col of the day the Col de la Portel (I was hoping it was a time portal). By this time I had no feelings below my waist at all which was probably for the best,
So the moral of this story is
* Easter in the Pyrenees is best described as unsettled!
* The Mountains are stronger than you .......
* If you can't decide what to wear ..... Wear it all it's bound to come in handy some time in the ride
* I ain't no Jens Voight
But what of Puivert? Well it's perfect for the cyclist lots of Cols and Valleys, big Cols like
pailheres at 2300 metres (I was so pleased it was closed), massive climbs in Andorra if you have the nerve.
Today I have just done 3 Col Day and again spent 30 miles soaked to the skin! Got chased by some bulls that i spooked! Cant wait to come back next year.
What of the B&B?
Www.petitverger.com Martin was a fantastic host a passionate cyclist, footballer, wine drinker and is known on occasion to combine all three disciplines, the B&B is a traditional French style house with large bright warm rooms and a massive plus for me is there is a bath!
We ate mainly at the B&B as there is. It much open at this time of year, the food was resturaunt standard and plenty of it, Martin dealt admirably with the veggie also.
We 50 euros a night for room and 15 euros for the scran. If you like cycling book this B&B!