Col de la Core
Fresh from the Col de Latrape climbing exploits and a large cheese baguette, it was time for my dessert. The 16Km Col de la Core.
Ourjout was the start of the climb; an hour’s drive away from Aulus-les-Bains.
The drive left me tired, but a self-kick up the backside and a can of Monster made up for it.
The climb began with a 10% bump and then a 6% steady section before the respite of a short downhill drop, but there was a price to pay.
A short but tough 17% section to grunt and swear up.
The next 5Km of the climb was undulating, but not enough to upset any rhythm.
And then it all changed
It was all going well.
Auto pilot time and take in the views until crunch-crunch,
The road surface changes from a smooth French road to a British country lane in an instant.
I’d read about the road surface changing, but that some time ago. I had wrongly assumed this wouldn’t be the case now.
This was a real drag, literally with the loose chippings dragging you down a gear.
I looked for any worn tracks to follow, but there weren’t any.
I cursed and cursed at the surface as I fought to maintain momentum and refocus.
“Delightful views,” I said to myself, only to reply, “Yeh, whatever.”
(Km / 10) * 6 = miles
I soon replaced the road surface moans with moans about the climb distance markers.
Distance markers inform you how much further it is to the summit.
In the Pyrenees, they do the opposite.
The markers show how far you’ve travelled.
I already know how much pain and suffering I have endured. I want to know how much remains to enjoy.
How far I have gone is history.
Just keep going is the bottom line and soon the summit arrives.
Once the sweat clears from my eyes, and the bandana stops dripping, it is WOW!
The views are fantastic. Despite my battle, it was a suitable reward for the time and effort.
Hurriedly I set about trying to look cool and collected as a potential photographer emerges from their car.
That’s done and so am I and now, for my cautious descent on the loose surface.
The hairpins and bends I would have excitedly expected were now deadly traps.
Bad grazing and ripped clothes at best. A somewhat shorter life expectancy at worst. ?
Such a shame as this was a 40+mph rolling otherwise.
It was a tough and enjoyable day, but now my only thoughts were on food, accompanied by more food.
Tonight, was tuna and Aulus-les-Bains cheese fusion night.
I pulled up to my tent and as I unloaded the car, a chap from a nearby camping pod approached me.
He asked where had I been riding etc. then he asked if I would like some tomatoes?
Not wanting to offend, or perhaps more to the point I was ready to devour anything, I of course accepted.
When he reappeared, I thought my French must be terrible.
He must have said pumpkins, but no.
In each hand sat a tomato. They were enormous. One was a meal in-itself.
Tomato growing was his passion, odd, but I will not knock it.
Soon I was in the community centre, hacking away at one of tomatoes for all I was worth.
As hungry as I was, I knew one would be enough, but guess what’s on the menu tomorrow?
I tucked into my tomato surprise at one with everything until a painful noise shattered my contemplative exercise.
I’m in the Pyrenees, surely?
This doesn’t sound right.
Well, what a pleasant surprise. ?
Outside a nearby caravan, some merry travellers took it upon themselves to delight fellow travellers with French Bagpipes, tin whistles and singing. ?
(Bagpipes! WTF. Who knew there was such a thing?).
For the first time on my adventure, I wished for rain.