71km of 1911km so far…
Today I cycled to the clouds! Col Aubisque is at 1709m and col du Soulor at 1474m.
The day started earlier than normal as I was woken up by a friend’s message. I took the opportunity for an early start, as I knew I had a big challenge in front of me. After I packed my stuff, I took a few minutes to admire the suroundings of the campsite as the sun was coming out.
I had my triple breakfast and started my way to the beggining of the col which was just a couple of kilometers away from the village.
The climb was 16km from the base and took me a little more than 2 hours. As usual every kilometer there was a sign for the remaining distance, the altitude and the average gradient at that kilometer. Bit by bit I was gaining altitude and the scenery was gradually changing. Half way through the clouds had completely covered the sky and the tops were on and off inside them. Most of the route was within a wild forests, with rivers, small waterfalls and pleanty of streams that got smaller and smaller as I was getting higher.
Above 1500 meters, it was a completely different world. The temperature was keep dropping and for periods of time I was cycling withing dense clouds. On the way I saw dozens of cyclists going up and down and everyone was encouraging each other. I finally made it to the top and I was completely soaked by the sweat and the humidity. When I stoped cycling, I started getting cooler and cooler very fast and by the time I took a couple of photos, I started freezing. Luckily there was a refuge/restaurant just at the side with about 20 bikes parked outside and seemed reasonable to go in. There I had a plate of warm food by the fireplace.
In the refuge, I met a swiss couple that were also touring. Michi ans Silvia had already done about 10 cols in Pyrenees and the Alps. They’ve taken a year off work and after Europe they are flying to south America to cycle around the continent.
When I managed to get some warmth and calories, I put my waterproofs to stop the chill and started making my way down to the other side. The decent didn’t require much effort, but apart from being dangerous, I didn’t want to go above 30km/h as the cold air was becoming unbearable. There were times I was breaking and peddaling at the same time, to keep my legs moving.
I went down about 500 meters, I started ascending again to the next col du Soulor. I didn’t stay there long and I continued my descent. On the way down it was easier to admire the scenery and stop for photos. After the fast descent of 20 kilometers, I stopped at Argeles Gazost to see what my options are. In the tourist office, I met another touring couple that I had already seen at the col and as they were heading at the same direction with me, we ended up cycling together to Luz Saint Sauveur and checking into the same camp site. Philip and Julia are spending a week cycling around Pyrenees and they will do as many cols as they have time for.