Col du Soulor
It was time to move on from Luz-Saint-Sauveur after my Hautacam back down to earth experience.
The new tent was soon down and packed and my second coffee puts the day to rights as the sun appeared in the valley.
My plan today is to travel to nearby Argeles-Gazost, and ride the Col du Soulor and if that goes well, then the nearby Col d Aubisque was a possibility.
The Col du Soulor climb is 19Km and rated 7/10. (Be wary of 7/10s Phil)
It is a sharp ramp out of the town that wakes you up, but after the initial leg moans, a steady rhythm can kick in.
At the halfway point, the climb plateaus enough for a deft finger front derailleur changing manoeuvre finger.
With the large chain ring spinning away, I was soon passing 20mph on a Tour de France climb (up).
This was a great feeling.
The same tree?
My delight at burning Brompton rubber soon turned to dismay.
Ahead of me was a pair of riders, and a nightmare returned.
One of them had a rucksack with a phone on full volume playing music, NOOOOOOO!
What is wrong with these people?
You have this beautiful countryside, and a pastoral atmosphere, and you violate with this.
Initially, I thought I was being stalked by the previously phasered Hautacam rider, but that was not the case.
Was it an accomplice? Or someone else who lived in a tree?
I hid my disapproval, and we politely greeted each other just before the plateau kicked up to 9%.
The gradient change had caught them out and so I distanced myself from earshot and returned to enjoying the day.
It was now beautiful, and like the Col-de-Peyresourde and Col d Azet rides, a dream.
A Spanish rider caught me and slowed for a chat in English (another rider guessing I wasn’t French ?).
The Brompton fascinated him, and like others he asked many questions.
(Hey Mr Brompton, if you wish to sponsor a sales rep to work in the mountains, hit the contact form).
We wished each other well, then without effort he picked up his pace (it was poetry in motion).
Moments later, another rider passed me.
He chose not to speak at all despite my acknowledgement of him and looked at me as though I was one of the great unwashed. (To be fair, I could be)
There was no pausing for him.
Off he went, grunting with brute force and no effort or style.
It was amazing to see the opposites of climbing techniques. I know my preference.
Like other dream rides, the summit came too quick.
Now eat up your coffee, like a good boy
This thought, however, became distracted by summit mayhem.
Half of Holland had assembled as part of an organised event.
All in matching outfits, wearing numbers, and excitedly gathered around their feed stations which were officiously ring fenced.
I guess they needed the security to prevent oiks like me pilfering a banana or such, heaven forbid.
Forced to buy my refreshment, I sat outside the busy summit café to enjoy a jambon sandwich and a Wow, esssssssspresssoooo, that was so thick you could chew it.
Well, if I wasn’t awake and shaking before, I never will be.
Bring on the Col d Aubisque.