The scenery here is like nothing else
July 15th 2012. Two days before the Tour de France team cycles through our village and up the massive Col du Tourmalet.
We all reluctantly left the Dordogne yesterday after an incredible week of cycling, eating, drinking and camaraderie. Such fun.
We are now in the Pyrenees in our mountain chalet after a 6 hour drive on Bastille Day.
Fireworks, French and Firemen in the rue last night – spectacular.
The scenery is like nothing else here. This morning I awoke and looked out of my skylight (we have the attic bedroom) to a crystal blue sky and vertical mountain peaks so close you felt like you could reach out and touch them.
We did a 6 hour hike into the Cirque de Gavarnie and marvelled at how stunning it was.
We climbed glaciers and patted donkeys and mountain cattle and watched vultures soar above us.
Six hours sounds a mighty undertaking but when you are walking through such stupendous thunderous beauty it is a joy that you don’t want to end. Each corner you turn brings another stunning vista.
The Cirque itself is breathtaking as it is a ring of mountains many kilometres wide that was hollowed out during an Ice Age. There are waterfalls, glaciers and Summer snows infront of you to marvel at.
Picnicking by a mountain brook, soaking (and drying off) our feet and eating baguette and saucisson with the magnificent Cirque waterfall behind us is hard to beat as an experience.
On another note I just had to fill you in on something.
After our 6 hour climb and walk we returned to our chalet in the sun. Then some beers in the sun on our terrace. After dinner tonight (cooked by our chalet staff) a few of us went up in the car to the top of the famous Col de Tourmalet.
This is where 95% of the Tour de France routes go and OMIGOD what a bastard of a thing to do to the human body.
It was the most spectacular drive up. The tour will pass over this Col in two days time.
Already the route is half-lined with campavans of every nation all on chocks on the side of vertical drops as the road zig-zags up this immense mountain. It is over 12 kms of very steep winding uphill ascent.
The evening sunset was so beautiful – the top half of the 3000 metre craggy mountains round the Col all blazing orange in the sun whilst the valley was a shroud of mist at the Col as we drove up past lots of sheep who were also climbing up the road to the top (presumably to eat grass as I’m not sure sheep really follow the Tour de France.)
People everywhere up the winding road are having wine and BBQ’s under umbrellas on the green curb with this stunning backdrop and you can see all the way down the valley as the road snakes back to Barege.
Deb saw the hairiest man on earth who was sitting beside his campavan topless drinking a beer. He was the Missing Link. Bald as a badger ontop with a flowing carpet of black hair down his chest, arms and back.
A terrifiying spectacle.
I stopped the car right in front of him whilst Deb took a couple of photos of him.
I’m sure he had no idea why a car-load of women had suddenly stopped to photograph his van.
I want to bring a campavan with a loo and a shower and camp on the Col for the Tour de France. Soooo much fun. So beautiful.
We have all decided that even though we are MACHINES and super fit after cycling and hiking for 10 days we shall still only hike 5 kms vertically up the sheep tracks towards the Col and sit in the paddocks above the campavans where we shall still get a great view of the Peloton as it snakes up the road.
Day 17 of the race, Wednesday is going to be 30 degrees here which is like 36 degrees elsewhere so we shall be covered in sunblock.
The atmosphere is electric.
Yawn – so tired. It’s still daylight and 10.15 pm.
Off to Noddington for me.