June 28th-July 1st 2017 – Lourdes to Carcassonne – I bid adieu to the Pyrenees and get in the zone to get to Carcassonne

This week’s photo shows a old picture from the Tour de France on a small shed in Bagneres de Bigorre. I have no idea who is in the photo or when it was taken but I would guess it is from the 30’s looking at the two bottles on the bike’s handlebars and the type of car following the cyclist. I don’t know but would guess that the picture was taken on the Tourmalet as Bagneres de Bigorre is a gateway to that climb. What is incredible from the photo is just how big the crowds were back then all the way up the mountain. When the Tour de France started it was just another race and the first stage in 1903 only attracted a few hundred spectators. It was only when the race went into the mountains with the Pyrenees in 1910 and the Alps in 1911 that the race became part of French folklore. The mountains have always attracted big crowds of spectators as this photo shows. Everyone in this photo was probably French whereas nowadays there are people attending the Tour de France from almost every country in the world. What has changed the most since this photo was taken is the condition of the road surface. All the major mountain passes are now paved with tarmac and riders rarely race any more up gravel tracks. But what hasn’t changed since this photo was taken is just how much interest the mountain stages of the Tour de France have always generated.

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Getting ready to leave Camping Domec. After a lovely rest day on Tuesday, it was time to hit the road again Wednesday morning.

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Total distance cycled on Wednesday June 28th from Lourdes to Sainte Marie de Campan – 35 km. Total distance cycled so far on 2017 Tour – 3,150 km.

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Sign for a bakery in Lourdes. Pain is the French word for bread and this sign was pointing towards a nearby bakery (boulangerie) and cake shop (patisserie). But the sign was also pointing to the south east towards the Col du Tourmalet. I was planning to climb the Tourmalet the following morning and this sign seemed to also be pointing towards the pain I was about to inflict on myself.

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Colorful floral display on a boundary wall at a house on the outskirts of Lourdes.

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Travoy bids adieu to Lourdes.

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The sign says “Share the road. Allow 1.5m when overtaking cyclists”. But the road out of Lourdes is so narrow it is impossible for a car to allow 1.5m if there is traffic coming the other way.  It wouldn’t be hard to add a verge to the road that cyclists could use and traffic wouldn’t then have to swerve to avoid cyclists. A wider road would be much safer for both drivers and cyclists but instead the highway department in the Pyrenees Atlantique took the cheaper option of putting up a few signs.

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Countdown clock on a set of traffic lights at roadworks in the town of Trebons. The clock shows 109 seconds but it is so much easier to wait at a set of lights when you know how long you will have to wait.

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Both the Col du Tourmalet and the Col d’Aspin were open.

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First sighting of the Pic du Midi on the top of the Tourmalet from the village of Beaudean.

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Two mannequins at a cafe in Campan.

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Lovely mural showing 2 women cooking a meal maybe 100 years ago or more.

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More mannequins outside a garage in Campan.

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Only 22 km to the top of the Col du Tourmalet.

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Sign outside the Le Chalet restaurant near Saint Marie de Campan.

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The blacksmith’s forge where Eugene Christophe got his forks repaired in 1913.

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Plaque on the gable of the old blacksmith’s forge.

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The Deux Vallees cafe in Saint Marie de Campan.

Statue of Eugene Christophe beside a sign for the start of the climb to the Col du Tourmalet.

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Total distance cycled Thursday June 29th from Sainte Marie de Campan to Bagneres de Bigorre – 15 km. Total distance so far on 2017 Tour – 3,165 km. On Thursday morning, I cycled up the Col du Tourmalet and full details of that climb are included in a seperate post here. In the afternoon, i travelled back to Bagneres de Bigorre.

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Shed full of logs near Sainte Marie de Campan.

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Railway station in Bagneres de Bigorre. French railway stations are so stylish and this one in Bagneres de Bigorre is off a style I haven’t seen elsewhere.

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Camping le Bigourdan in Bagneres de Bigorre.

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Total distance cycled on Friday June 30th from Bagneres de Bigorre to Boussens – 90 km. Total distance so far on 2017 Tour – 3,255 km.

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Travoy loaded up ready to leave Camping le Bigourdan.

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Chateau de Mauvezin in the distance.

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2 vintage tractors in a shed near Mauvezin.

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The climb up to Chateau Mauvezin was long and at times, steep.

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Spectator terrace alongside the road for the Grand Prix du Comminges.

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Mural for the Le Gavastous restaurant.

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Bridge over the Garonne in Saint Martory.

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Municipal campsite in Boussens.

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Total distance cycled on Saturday July 1st from Boussens to Carcassonne – 145 km. Total distance so far on 2017 Tour – 3,400 km.

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My tent held up- with only one tent-pole. I broke one of my aluminium tent-poles when putting up the tent. Rather than risk the cover-sheet getting torn, I used only one pole to hold up the tent. Luckily, it was not too windy overnight or otherwise , the tent would never have stayed up.

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Sports stadium in Boussens.

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Cycling sculpture in Martres-Tolosane.

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Mailbox built out of motorcycle parts.

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Rugby mural in Saint Sulpice sur Leze.

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Posters for a AC-DC tribute band and a Frozen themed circus. I originally thought that the real AC-DC were playing at a chateau near Toulouse on Saturday 22nd of July as their logo is used on the poster. But the real AC-DC band are not touring this year after completing a marathon world tour last year during which Axl Rose from Gun’s and Roses stood in as lead singer when Brian Johnson took ill.

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Sign for the Cite de Carcassonne.

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Ryanair plane at Carcassonne airport.

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Decathlon store in Carcassonne. I made it to this store only about an hour before it closed and called in to see if I could get a replacement tent pole. Luckily, one member of staff spoke English and he spent about half an hour first trying to find a similar pole and then trying to fix my broken pole with a small tube. It was incredible service and the effort the staff member put in trying to mend my pole was much appreciated as I was really tired after cycling 140 km to get to the store.

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The repaired tent-pole worked a treat. It was really windy at the Cite campsite in Carcassonne but the repaired tent-pole stayed up just fine. The same day the Tour de France had started in Dussledorf in Germany with a 14 km time trial. Well, I had a 140 km time trial to get to Carcassonne before the Decathlon camping store closed for the week-end. But all that effort was worthwhile just to get the tent pole fixed as my tent never would have survived the night otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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