Saturday, September 27, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Today is a day "off the bike". A zero day. I took the local bus to the pilgrim city of Lourdes at 10:15 this morning. It was a 25 minute ride and I hopped off the bus into the drizzle and searched out the Tourism Office. Once I had a city map in hand I was off, only God knew where. But soon I discovered a blue line painted along the streets that turned out to be a walking tour of Lourdes. There are a number of churches in town, but the main church, the shrine, THE SANCTUARY is why the pilgrims are here. The plaza around the Sanctuary church can handle 80,000 people. I saw "a league of nations" parading toward the Church. One youth group broke into clapping when they first laid their eyes on the Church in the distance. This is obviously a sacred place to Roman Catholic Christians. And I'm sure many others visit out of curiosity. I'm glad I got to spend some time praying here. I hope the paintings/murals are clear enough in my photos. There is a hotel for just about every saint including the "fuzzy" St Charles! Must be my friend at WCCC library. He's a little fuzzy in the head. "Buy me something Charlie".
Posted by Mike Simmons at 7:40 AM
Sunday, September 21, 2008
What an incredible day. I got to climb three of the famous Tour De France Climbs. And in doing so I discovered that two of them are really one climb with a 2K downhill in between. I started out of Argeles-Gazost with a 3K steep climb, then it went up more gradually but it still was climbing until the village of Arrens-Marsous where you begin the climb up the Col du Soulor. There are signs every Kilometer telling you the gradient/% and number of meters ascended and how far to the top. Soulor was 7 1/2 %, then 8%, Then 8 1/2%, for 11K. Once on top of Soulor there is a 2K incredible descent (you don't want to go off the side) and then you begin the climb up the Aubisque (Oh - beesk) (I call it ahh - biscuit). The Aubisque itself, for all it's fame is only 5K. But the last Kilometer is at 8% at the end of a 16K climb from Arrens-Marsous and 30K from Argeles-Gazost.
After the downhill run back to Argeles-Gazost and my campground I headed off to Cauterets to climb Pont d'Espagne. Turns out it's only flat until Soulom, then you have an 11K climb, a beautiful climb, to Cauterets, and then you begin the 8K climb up the Pont d'Espagne. Truly a fabulous climb. The phots hopefully give you an idea of the scenic beauty. For 19K / 12 Miles you are riding along cascading waters.
Posted by Mike Simmons at 5:26 AM