What a good sleep! Felt much better until I got out of bed and into the sunlight. It was going to be another scorching day. Got up late, had tea, as usual.
Dan’s front pannier rack had broken the day before coming down a particularly steep stretch of road (we think). Much swearing and frustrated looks from Dan as he mended it with some clamps he had attached to the bikes. Bike UK [from who we had bought the bikes in London] are going to get an earful when we have a moment to write to them. They had sold us useless kit and it was an indication of what useless, ignorant salesmen they were.
We left fairly late, heading for the centre of Pau. As we left the campsite, we caught our first glimpse of the Pyrenees standing hazy in the morning light. It gave me a burst of adrenalin as I stared at them. This was our first major obstacle of the journey and there they were, just sitting and waiting for us.
Unsuccessfully, we left Pau having looked for a new rack for Dan. It was stinkingly hot and the traffic was getting on my nerves. We had to get out of that place. We had met a young Belgian chap who was going in the same direction as us in Pau. He shot on ahead of us as we stopped to buy some lunch. We met him later in the Laruns camp site we had arranged to stay.
We stopped in a supermarket in Gans which shut for another hour. So, we sat in its shade and drank coke. A lazy, young Frenchman was doing the same, sitting on some display chairs outside, yawning and groaning. It was about 36 degrees C again. We bought lunch after wandering around inside the air conditioned shop for a while and cycled off in the direction of Laruns.
A few kms later, we were entering the foothills of the Pyrenees, cow bells donking, streams and rivers everywhere, green grass (compared with the scorched Dordogne). Then came a couple of nasty hills before dropped into the Ossan valley. What a picture. We stopped for a drink at about 5.15 before cycling along a minor road up the valley towards Laruns. It was beautiful cycling up next to the river, being fed by fast flowing streams to our left.
It was noticeably cooler now that we were in the mountains which made it more comfortable to cycle. We went through some quiet hamlets, past a small trout farm with some enormous fish feeding, past a fly fisherman, a small herd of cows who let us politely pass through and a few other bikers. Up to our left, high up on a rocky outcrop, we could see some large birds circling and soaring above their nests.
At last, we were cycling through some beautifully wild countryside into something more demanding than we had been through so far. I was enjoying myself. We got into the camp site which had a notice saying ‘If we are not in, just find yourself a place and we’ll sort it out tomorrow’. Wonderful.
Supper of pasta, beouf bourgignon, chick peas (which had been soaking in one of our jerry cans all day), rice pudding, bananas, tea and biscuits. We had cold showers before going to bed which was refreshing.
That night a very warm wind blew into the valley and into our tent, making it very hot. Later it stopped and turned cool again. So, the night was spent tossing and turning trying to get cool or comfortable. Another sleepless night.
The young Belgian had said he was going off at 6am or 7am to cycle up the Col d’Aubisque, so I presume he did because his tent was gone by the time Dan and I got up.
Distance 51.9 kms Average speed 6.8 kmh Time 7hrs 29
Will Hawkins lives in Lincolnshire with his family, works in a technology company in London and does as many micro-adventures as he can.
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