Mur de Peguere
Just down from the summit of the Col de Port is the start of the infamous Mur de Peguere.
Mur is French for wall, which sums up this brutal 3Km climb.
If you are familiar with UK country lane road surfaces, then this surface will seem like home for you.
It is a single lane tree lined track with a disintegrating gravel chip surface and some tight bends.
The Mur de Peguere’s notoriety originated when the locals covered the road in tacks during the 2012 Tour de France in protest over the re-introduction of bears to their valley.
On that day, about 30 riders punctured and Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) (photo from lequipe.fr) retired from the race after breaking his collarbone.
Just 3Kms? This is not even a pop to the shops.
The Mur starts at 13% for 200 metres, then it’s time to enjoy a 15% offering.
For the next 2Kms, the gradient playfully hovers between 12 and 15% before finally relenting to a flat 11%.
When I finally reached the top, my lungs desperately pulled in the fresh mountain air. It did me.
I had used a 22-inch gear, but my 18-inch would have been better suited on occasionally to maintain a cadence.
The climb had me fooled.
I believed I had to dig in for some short hard sections, but it was one long hard bit.
I had to keep pulling my guitarist’s face.
People in a car coming down the narrow road appreciated my efforts.
“CHAPEAU!!” they shouted enthusiastically as they stopped and moved over
Not a bear on the Mur but…
From the summit, the Pyrenees opened in the bright sunshine with only the odd white cloud floating around.
A wonderful sight and well worth the effort.
Fallen branches, boulders and loose gravel on the steep gradients made descending a slow, cautious affair.
I was at 20mph if I let the brakes off for a second.
Way too fast, put them back on (gently).
I had my doubts about Massat, but I enjoyed memorable experiences and times there.
The 2012 protests did the trick, as I didn’t notice any bears in the valley. (A shame, but I’m not upset).
I saw a bear at the campsite, however, so if you go for a picnic, you’d better watch out.
Because today might be the day. ?