Day 28, 18 6 2013, Toulouse to Lannemezan

We spent quite some time yesterday planning what we would do today, and ended up in much the same situation as if we had planned nothing.

It rained heavily overnight, and we left in threatening weather.  Toulouse was easy to ride from.  There were bike lanes and paths everywhere, as we expect d in big European cities.  This is why Avignon came as such a surprise.

When we arrived at the railway station at Toulouse yesterday we spent some time with TomTom and worked out that there were few hotels in the direction we were travelling.  This was confirmed this morning when we did not see any hotel for 40Km after Toulouse.

From the outskirts of Toulouse we seemed to be back in what I feel is the real France, rolling bright-green country with ridges covered in dense mixed forest.

We were heading towards the Pyrenees and climbed steadily out of the Garonne River valley to a ridge before descending into the next river valley, from which we spent the afternoon steadily climbing, gaining some 450m.

The rain that was threatening turned into a light drizzle, so light it was a toss up as to whether I would get wetter sweating in the rain coat or by the rain.

It soon turned out that the rain was the problem, and then it got much worse. Bus stops can be very useful for looking at maps in the rain.

There was no accommodation in the villages that we assumed would have something, so we rode on until we reached Lannemezan.  We had decided some time earlier that we would bail out at the earliest hotel, but there was none until this town.

While the climb was easy, it cut our speed and the wind that had assisted us over the last week had disappeared.

The point of coming here was to ride the Col du Tourmalet, a huge goal for cyclists and a mountain that appears frequently in the Tour de France.  However, there are big floods in this area of France, so this might not be possible.  We will find out tomorrow.

It is a strange thing in these rides that there is some dread in finding ourselves in the situation we were in today, riding in the hills, with deteriorating weather and thunder storms, dropping temperatures and no way out, but when it comes to it, I rather enjoy it.  I have said so often in these pieces that we are so thankful that we have the strength and fitness to cope with these conditions.  While occasionally I wonder why we do this, it is never in conditions like this that I doubt it.  It is in the easy and boring parts that I wonder.

We rode 117Km today, and as Roz said, it is not for the faint-hearted.  At the end of a day like this at this point in a ride, 28 days in, we are so fit that we are not really even weary at the end of the day.  This is a case, as my father used to say, do as I say, not as I do.


Roz says

Hotels need to remember that travel is tiring and clients need comfort.

Tonight we are in a really cheap hotel with a restaurant serving a set menu including hot soup and three other courses for 11.50E. The shower is hot and the room is spacious. Just the answer after a drenching ride.

The Donjon people from the other night in Agde don’t get it.

There is nearly always something wrong in a hotel room BUT !

At the Donjon reception was welcoming then the problems began.

Nothing worked, the hot water, the plug, the cistern, the bed lights, no soap etc

Even the ‘welcome’ message on the bedside table was threats to clients re booking, paying, leaving or cancelling.  And the breakfast was the cheapest oldest food they could find in the dingiest, off smelling room.  All this with a two star rating and a three star price tag.  Some people shouldn’t own hotels.


We actually understood French TV news this evening!!  The next town Lourdes is hugely flooded.  Whoops.


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