Friday, October 3, 2008

July 10 Auch to Bagneres-de-Bigorre 115 K

It is time to take a day off, but I have to position myself to be on Hautacam to be in the midst of the crazed cycling fans on one the famed mountain-top finishes in the Tour de France history. Climbing out of Auch was really steep, right up through the old part of town and the super big cathedral, St Marie I believe. It's being restored like many Catholic churches I have passed. The 64 million dollar question is, "Is it historical restoration or a spiritual restoration taking place, or maybe both. I guess you can see from my photos that Crosses are everywhere. On entering every town and village there is a Cross. Always in a different form, but there it is affirming faith in Jesus. The townsquare has a Cross. Farms have a Cross. Homes have a Cross. Farmers fields have a Cross. Crossroads have a Cross. France has a Cross everywhere you go. Oh, I spotted my first non-catholic church yesterday in Fleurance. The sign on the storefront read Eglise Evangelique. Evangelical Church. I was very excited to reach Bagneres-de-Bigorre today, because that means I've arrived at the Pyrenees Mountains. Upon entering Bagneres I had a lady cyclist, a local, along side of me at a traffic light so I tried a question in French on her and "Wala", she spoke English perfectly. One minute later she was inviting me to camp in the garden (yard) at her home. She said, "Just tell my husband, Lynn said you could.". But I opted for a campground nearby. I ate my first French pizza. Do you think Jioio's or Gino's will deliver to France? I could see the Pic Du Midi Observatory above the Col Du Tourmalet this evening, almost 9000 feet, and I'll be climbing up there soon. Awesome! And the photo of the van with "Just Kitchens" is there because when I saw the English lettering I asked the driver for directions to the "superemarche" to get water and he gave me two 1 1/2 litre bottles. Nice people. Send him a thank you for me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

July 11 Bagneres-de-Bigorre to Argeles-Gazost 55 K

I was going to take today off but I needed to put myself closer to Hautacam before my rest day. And Saturday is supposed to be the one bad weather day this weekend. So I plan to take Saturday off and take the local bus to Lourdes to check out this famous pilgrim site and say some prayers. Hey Tim Reidmiller, I'll be praying for you and your family while I sit in church in Lourdes!!! The ride over to Argeles-Gazost was pretty incredible. It rolled, then I had a couple miles of climbing, but then, AWESOME BABY, one of the greatest downhill runs ever. Not for speed, but just sheer coolness. Rolling through villages, looking up at strangely carved mountains. Just cool. So now I'm planted in Argeles-Gazost for the next 4 nights. July 12 I rest and visit Lourdes, July 13 I climb Hautacam and scope out where I'll stand and watch the Tour De France go by and probably ride back through Argeles and climb the Col du Soulor and the Col D' Aubisque, (by the way did I mention that there is the possibility of snow Saturday July 12 in the higher elevations), July 14 I will rise very early to climb Hautacam and try to beat the masses of cycling fans going to the top. The leader of the TDF that day should be passing me about 3:30. Look for me on Versus TV. I'll be the guy in the red shirt with the super goofy grin.