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Cycling, Wine and Cultural Tours in the Dordogne, Pyrenees and Southwest of France.

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Chateau de Pitray
Chateau de Pitray

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  • Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    The 2012 riders who made it across the Pyrenees, coast to coast, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and back. From left to right: Melissa, Dave, Lynda, Brian, Doug, Mike and Jeff. This year, with a couple of small modifications to the route, the actual elevation for the entire ride exceeded 100,000 ft over 1000 miles. I guess I need to edit the jersey for next year.

    The following pictures of the Pyrenees trip are not in chronological order.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Coming down the Col d'Iraty in the Basque country of France. Off in the distance is the fog from the Atlantic seashore. My guess is that we are about 50 miles inland. Another tough day of riding in the mountains. There is no such thing as an easy climb in the Pyrenees, though when you finish a 90 mile ride with 12000 ft of climbing, a ride with only 8000 ft seems easy.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Mike making his way up the Col du Porte de Pailheres - on the eastern end of Pyrenees - and his first real taste of a Pyrenees climb. I asked him how the Pyrenees compared to the climbs in the Colorado Rockies. His answer, "much harder in the Pyrenees."

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    The top of the Col d'Aubisque, a mountain pass that is often featured in the Tour de France. About 6 years ago they put these gigantic bicycles at the summit to commemorate the history of the Tour and the Aubisque.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Back in the Basque country on the final day of the trip. I am very thankful that every year that I have done this trip we have always had mostly good weather. It is a real treat to ride through the Pyrenees with sunshine and warm weather, a sag wagon to pamper you, and immaculately paved roads.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Of course a picture can never capture the actuality of been on site, but if you take a moment to study the depth of the mountains in this image you can maybe use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    A strong headwind is one thing that can break a rider's will on a bike. On this day we left the Mediterranean coast to head into the mountains, a 90 mile day with a relentless headwind all day, and at times almost comical in it's intensity. If you look at the foliage by the road sign on the right side of the picture you can see the wind. I like to tell my clients, "when in doubt in the Pyrenees you must attack!" No one had any doubts on this day.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Beware that the Basque country owes its lush green foliage to the rain. On a day like today it all looks so perfect and inviting, the way I intended and planned on, but there are without a doubt days of reckoning - which the other bike tour riders can suffer.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    I think the most prevalent structure in France is a church. Before we had google maps, one would just say I'll meet you at the church." Works every time.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    I think the proper caption is, "Grown-ups behaving like children ... and then something went terribly wrong."

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    I suspect that Jeff has something other than water in his bottle

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    On the second rest day, some of us still decided to go for a ride. We saw this road from across the valley ... and we made sure to avoid it.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    If it was up to me I would add a few more rose geranium plants, don't you think? You know, build it up a little.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    The foot hills of the mid Pyrenees.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    The approach to the col du Soulor on the east side.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    ... and the summit of the col du Soulor.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    This is me stressed out at work in the Pyrenees. It's one of those "dirty jobs," but someone has got to do it.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    The statue at the top of the Col du Tourmalet.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Sometimes it does rain, for a little bit, no big deal. The Col d'Agnes.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Basque country 100%.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    The morning routine on the way to the first climb of the day.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    What we have here are two riders, dead tired, on the 3rd climb of the day, at about mile 75 with 10000 ft so far. We are riding up the Gavarnie and there is no end in sight to the top.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    This Ass was doing his best to stick his mug into our food.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    The view from the hotel room somewhere in the Basque country.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    I still can't see the top of the Gavarnie.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    The contrast is obvious. Melissa is cresting the col d'Aspin, the first climb of the day, and she's sprinting over the top. The end of the day is a different story.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    A 100 yards from the top of the Col du Tourmalet.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    The view from the hotel room at Saint Savin, looking east towards the Tourmalet. Everything is epic.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Finally someone, Doug in this case, has the good sense to take his time, look at the view and eat his sandwich at the top of the Col du Tourmalet. Bucolic bliss - that's almost a double entendre.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Col du Bagargui. If you have ever ridden the east side then you know. Mike now knows.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Perfect.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Again, the Col du Bagargui. It has an effect on all those who dare ride up it.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    Lynda all smiles at the top of the Col du Tourmalet ... must not have been working hard enough ... still a lot more left in the tank.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    We rode from down there.

    Ride Across the Pyrennes cycling challenge 2012

    This Ass just won't leave me alone.