Saturday 29 June 2013

Stage 8 - Castres to Ax 3 Domaines

Today was a day of 2 parts - flat and grey and then sunny and v hilly.

It was a very early start to catch a cramped bus to allow us to start in Castres at 7:30.  The sky was leaden and the temperature downright cold, and the general mood in the peloton was a bit leaden too.  The first 75 miles were flattish, but the wind was helping us today because we've turned south.  I rode with the fast group for the first 60km, but then dropped back to save some energy.  4 of us then rode together to lunch, in the lovely village of Quillan, low, but set in a deep valley.

 Much of the morning was spent at not much more than 100m altitude, but the road now started to head upwards, at first very gently, then noticeably, through deep ravines besides a mountain river.  After what seemed an age, the actual climb started - 16km at 8% to the Col De Pailheres
 The scenery was sublime - the very epitome of the word bucolic.  Shepherds herding their goat, horses on the road, and snow-capped mountains towering above the pastoral valley.  Of course, all I could think of was how far it was to the top.

The road stretches down from the Pailheres.

After the enormous hill, came a screaming descent to Aix Les thermes, before another big climb to the ski station at Ax 3 Domaines.  At 700m of climbing, it felt relatively short, and allowed me backm in time to post this before supper - unlike some of the guys who are still out there.

More mountains and bucolic sweat tomorrow

Although the screen for my speedo is broken it can record my activities for posterity - if not current use.  Strava link here