2015-07-18 Montrejeau – Escosse

This photo is of the Eglise du Raynaude and 14 smaller chapels which form a Chemin de Croix or Way of the Cross up a hill behind the church. Located near the town of Rieubach, it dates from 1865 and is one of the hundreds of churches that were built and restored around France after the apparitions in Lourdes in 1858.

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Total today – 115 km. Total so far – 1200 km. The route today was mostly downhill to start with but there were some tough climbs at the finish. The last climb of the Cote de Pal du Pailhes, in particular, was just brutal. 3 times I thought I was at the top only for the road to keep climbing up some more. It was the only hill on the Tour de Travoy where I overtook someone pushing a bike up a hill.

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Heatwave was back today. The weather today was quite mild to start with but it got really hot as the day went on. This pharmacy sign in Saint Girons shows a temperature of 36 degrees.

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Camping Couleurs Garonne in Montrejeau. After over 2 weeks in France, Montrejeau was the first place on the Tour de Travoy when it actually rained. There was a huge thunderstorm overnight and it bucketed down with rain for about an hour but I had the tent already set up and luckily, it didn’t leak. By the time I left the campsite, the ground was dry and the sky was clear.

International man of mystery? Grover-Williams in his Bugatti.
International man of mystery? Grover-Williams in his Bugatti.

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Route of French Grand Prix in 1928. My route today between Montrejeau and Saint Gaudons took me along the same road that the French Grand Prix was raced in 1928. The race that day was won by William Grover-Williams in a Bugatti Type 37C. Grover-Williams, who is famous for also winning the first Monaco Grand Prix in 1929, became a British spy in France during World War 2. In 1943, he was captured by the Gestapo and transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was reportedly executed in 1945. However, there are rumours that he was liberated by the Russians and returned to his wife in 1947 after changing his name to “Georges Tambal”.

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Stand for spectators beside main road for watching Grand Prix races. The circuit at Saint Gaudens was only used once for the French Grand Prix but the Grand Prix du Comminges was held there most years between 1925 and 1952.

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Roundabout in Saint Gaudens. Stage 17 of the 2014 Tour de France started in Saint Gaudens and the roundabout on the outskirts of town is still decorated with bikes.


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Billboard for Le Gavastous restaurant. On the outskirts of Saint Gauden, there was this huge billboard for the Le Gavastous restaurant. The sign says “Pizza cooked in a wooden fire oven. Shaded patio terrace”. The reviews on Tripadvisor are pretty good and I guess the reason for the huge billboard is because McDonalds is right beside the restaurant.

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Hybrid corn trial of drought resistant seed. Near Mane, I came across a field of corn planted with Pioneer Aquamax hybrid corn seed. The seed is obviously designed for drought conditions and the corn crop looked really healthy despite there being no irrigation.The seed is not a GMO variety, which is controversial in France but instead was developed by DuPont Pioneer in the USA by cross-breeding some of the 500 varieties of corn they have at their test facility in Johnston in Iowa. In tests, the seed produces 9% more yield than normal corn in drought conditions but when there is sufficient rainfall, the yield is slightly less.

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Theme park for dogs at Parc du Couserans. The French really love their dogs but the French dogs don’t like cyclists. In nearly every town, I would get barked at by a dog but fortunately, most houses with dogs had a big fence and gates around it, so I never once was chased by a dog. In Paris, they have a cemetry for dogs and here, near Saint Girons, I came across a poster for a theme park just for dogs in Couserans, 50km away, where they can run round and chase after hares and wild boar

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Grote du Mas d’Azil. Near the village of Le Mas d’Azil, the main road (D119) goes throgh a cave known as the Grotte du Mas d’Azil. The cave is over 400m long and up to 70m high and it was so much cooler inside than outside. It was used by pre-historic man and there is a small museum with skeletons of pre-historic animals.

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Camping Le Bon Choix in Escosse. It was near 8 o’clock when I finally made it to the Le Bon Choix campsite. Normally, at a campsite there is no paperwork and you are just asked for ID but here, I was asked to fill out a registration card. The trouble was my arms were sweating so much, the ink from the pen ended up all smudged on the form. No matter how much I wiped my right arm, the sweat kept pouring out of it and down onto the paper. Looking back, It was the first sign my body was struggling to cope with the heat and that I was near exhaustion.

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