I got an early start today to make the day easier. Phil and I headed off at 7am and got some pastries in Saint Girons for breakfast but unfortunately no coffee was available.
It didn't take long to get out of Saint Girons then we turned up a small road that followed the nice Rivernert valley through villages then started the significant climb to Col du Cruzette, that last few 100m was steep. There were hot views to the high Pyrenees in the south.
The short climb to the Col de Portet was an easier angle. The very steep and quite rough descent was followed by a long easy gradient climb to the Col du Port. I stopped at the Auberge de la Sapiniere for a coffee and snack and enjoyed the views.
Another long fast descent, then I had to stop while a funeral procession crossed the road. More descending then a brief gravel track diversion around a motorway brought me to popular and pretty town of Tarascon-sur-Ariège. All the cafes and restaurants were busy so I decided to keep riding with the assistance of snacks and a gel,
The climb up the Pas de Souloumbrie was sustained then there was some nice riding on high ground through small villages and the Château de Lordat ruin.
Then another descent and another climb up towards the Col de Marmare, then another small road down to Ax-les-Thermes. I had a beer and a croque Monsieur with Phil in the square before the others arrived.
Its a very nice town with a river cascading through it and some nice alley ways. The guys in Joe Bike (Intersport) shop helped me out with some oil for may change, and small rear rain catcher and some gels
The Telemark Pyrenees shop is here too - will known for its backcountry ski gear.
We had an excellent 4 course dinner at our hotel (The Chalet) and did some planning for tomorrow - another big day of climbing,