Almost as if by accident, we arrived in the Pyrennean town, Bagneres-de-Luchon, the same day le Tour de France made its depart. The bars and restaurants were bursting with cyclists, little jersies were strung between trees, and everywhere you looked people seemed happy and content. Bikes and holidays – what a wonderful combination.
Held back for a few days with a chesty cough, it was time to discover what others find fun when they don’t have singletrack to rail and bergs to ascend. Rest was enjoyed, books were read, fine foods were sampled and we went for a walk to the stunning Lac d’Oô. The sound of waterfalls filled the clean mountain air and we ascended the rocky trail wondering what lay above the cloud covered peaks of the surrounding green. A soup stop at our destination was the perfect way to refuel. Surrounded by walkers and riders it was great to see so many people loving this day as well.
Project Recovery meant lifted runs were non-negotiable. Staring through the window of the gondola on the way up excitement built for the singletrack descent which would soon follow. I met some guys at an intersection and asked them whether our bikes were suited to the most technical trails. In Australia suspension and tyres would be the indicator. Here, it was whether or not we had disc brakes. Riding steep, smooth downhills fast is fun!
Signs for trail number 11 took us on a journey up, down and around. Multiple villages, shady forest, rocky, vertical descents, waterscapes, crepes and twisty country roads. The views showed the wide variety of terrain on offer and our legs showed us how much fun it is getting there. All the time we were thinking, “What a wonderful way to experience a place,” and, “How much would [insert names of mates] be loving this ride as well.” Big French mountains have an addictive effect.
Photos: Kath Bicknell, Gaye Camm.