Port de Lers
After the fun and games at Massat and the Mur de Peguere, it was time to move on from the enjoyable Camping du Pouech.
Another municipal campsite in the small village of Ustou was my destination.
(A good municipal site is always my preference. I find them much friendlier and quieter places–except Montbrison).
The drive wasn’t long, but it was boiling.
Another great find; Three nights, a pool, a communal microwave, a fridge, and a recreation space for €22.50? – Wow!
The sun was still shining, but I resisted the temptation to try for a climb, as some chores required urgent attention.
The washing machine revelled in an aromatic cycling gear treat while tucked into a hearty tuna/rice/pasta sauce fusion.
Stuffed and smelling sweet, I settled down for the night.
If you have to go if you want to go.
In the fenced off woodland next to my tent I strange screeching noises kept me awake for a while. They seemed all around me, but distant.
Convinced that whatever it was not coming to eat me, I eventually drifted off.
Sweet dreams until that old camping dilemma. Do I get up for pee or not?
No matter how much you try to ignore it, you eventually must drag yourself out of the warm sleeping bag to stumble out into the cold, dark night.
While I marvelled at the thousands of stars in the black night, I could still hear the screeching from the woodlands.
Aha! I have a Bird app on my phone and ping, came the answer, Tawny Owls.
I slipped back into the sleeping bag after everything had been resolved.
Pick a climb, any climb.
I had seven climbs close by as the crow flies, but not as the car drives, with Port de Lers probably the most awkward one to get to.
The start for Port de Lers on the opposite side of another climb on my list, the Col ‘Agnes.
Three climbs today would be a demanding day, but possible if I managed an early start.
I decided on the tactics I used at Port de Pailheres, but with a slight deviation.
Park at the summit, descend and return, but remember to take my water bottles and lock the car. ?
I pulled into the gravel at the summit, and it was surreal.
There was hardly a breath of wind and a silence that I had rarely witnessed outdoors.
(Like the reply when asking someone with a hard-disk crash if they had a back-up of their data).
It’s an idyllic scene: a comfortable 20º, the soft sound of cowbells in the distance and the occasional cloud slowly drifting past.
The temptation was to stay here longer, but there are roads to be climbed
A constant stream of unconnected cyclists was ascending as I flew down to the segment start at Vicdessos.
I looked forward to catching up with some on my return. ?
Where is everyone?
It was a steady 8-10% at first, then the 15% shock before dropping to 12% over the first few Kms.
The legs were now awake, but with cadence of 70 on the 28-inch gear, all was well.
Sometimes I think the Pyrenees mountains compete to provide the best views and Port de Lers was going for it. Stunning.
The stream of ascending cyclists was, alas, no more. The road now appeared empty. How disappointing.
But wait, rider, in the distance with only 0.5Km to the summit!
Despite my effort to catch them, the early arrival of the summit thwarted me.
Too late, they took the laurels.
At the top, and we took each other’s photos for posterity and took in the scene.
Thicker clouds were now drifting in. They didn’t look ominous, but experience has taught me to be aware.
There were more climbs to be done, so I decided it was best to get a move on and not waste the benefit of an early start.
My friend often says, ‘Every silver lining has a cloud’ and so this proved.
The mountain road disappeared. I had taken silver on the summit and now my cloud had arrived.
With no desire to change my perception that living is a good thing, the Yaris was on a 10mph crawl.
Through the cloud, I could hear the soft clang of cowbells, but when they emerged from the cloud in front of the car, it shocked me.
Like passing ships, the herd of white Charolais cows drifted by on their upward stroll as I sat open mouthed.
When they had all passed, I continued with even more caution.
On the lower slopes, heavy rain replaced the cloud. The sky was unbroken, and I thought, ‘No more climbing today’.
I had a free afternoon and the Brompton had time off.
The tent issue needed to be considered now.
I had packed two tents, a spacious 4 man one for stays over two days and a supposedly two-man tent. (You had to be good friends though).
A Decathlon store was within striking distance and so a ‘jolly’ to replace the small tent.
As usual, Decathlon came up trumps.
After a website browse, I decided on the tent I wanted. Although pricier, that I wanted to pay, it looked the best option.
If it was in stock, I would have bought it, but it wasn’t.
The next size up was though, and of course, slightly more expensive. Within a second, I convinced myself I was worth it, and I NEEDED it.
*My philosophies are: –
1) If I need it and I will get the use out of it, then go for quality.
2) At my age it’s no good saving up for rainy days, they are already here.
The exchange rate was not favourable for the pound, so I favoured the cash option rather than the card.
This proved problematical.
I’m told “Cash is King”, but with five or six card-only self-service checkouts, then maybe it’s not.
A remote check out, however, was manned and so I wandered over.
The couple in front of me at the checkout decided now was a good time for an in-depth discussion on product colour variations the cashier.
A queue was now building and despite various members coughing and making noises, it made no difference. They continued their discussion.
I now regretted not taking the card hit. At least I could have had 15 minutes of my life back.
Unfortunately, it looks like thunder and rain for a few days.
The advice of local mountain walkers at the campsite, ‘Have your ark ready for Friday’.