June 15, 2010: The Pyractif farmhouse in Bertren is very comfortable and I was fortunate again to have a single room, the Charly Gaul Room—perhaps a sign that my climbing would improve for the remainder of our time in the Pyrenees! It was also a chance to get laundry done, look after our dirty bikes and finally get our shoes dried out. There were great piles of cycling magazines and beer in the fridge and World Cup games on the big screen television, but I was determined to get out on the bike again as the previous day's 33 kms of riding was simply not enough.
|Dan, aka Mr. Clean|
We continued onwards in light rain, past charming ancient dark stone villages. Eventually the villages were no more to be seen. The Peyresourde was one of the climbs included when the Tour came to the Pyrenees in 1910. It is almost 10 km long, with an average grade of 6.6%, with some nasty bits pushing nearly 12%. I was careful to ride without putting too much pressure on my inner thigh muscles and enjoyed the hairpins and the views of the surrounding green countryside.
The first third of the ride back to Luchon was not very nice, although not nearly as cold as the Aspin descent had been. I was the first one down and waited for everyone at the intersection, where, sure enough, I began to shake with cold again. This was getting tiresome, but soon we found a caféand were recovering with hot drinks. We found our hammerheads, who told us that the Port de Balèhad been pretty hard to ride, as the road surface was poor and covered with cow or sheep manure. It would have been no fun in the rain.
There was a bike shop next to the café, and I was happy to go in and get my Peyresourde borne, the replica miniature kilometer marker, to add to my small collection. Well, “collection” is an overstatement as I only have one from the Col du Granon. Anyway, task completed, I rode out back towards Bertren, accompanied by Duck.