France From Inside Cycling and Wine Tours France

Cycling, Wine and Cultural Tours in the Dordogne, Pyrenees and Southwest of France.

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Chateau de Pitray
Chateau de Pitray

Ride Across the Pyrenees 2012

The Pyrenees trip has begun, that is the riding started on August 28th, and I am finally getting around to posting some photos. Above is the French Basque country, about 30 miles inland from the Atlantic coast and the town of Biarritz.

Ride Across the Pyrenees 2012

For those of you who don't know, the Pyrenees bike trip a loop that will take us from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and back through the Pyrenees mountains, 12 days of riding that will cover a 1000 miles and 100,000 ft of elevation. It may sound like a lot, but the beauty of the countryside helps to keep everyone motivated.

Ride Across the Pyrenees 2012

Chateaux everywhere, along with a lot of churches. 10th century, 12th century, 14 century, you pick the century. The daunting aspect is trying to imagine living in one of these places back in the day!

Ride Across the Pyrenees 2012

I like this picture because of the mountains silhouetted in the background, in particular the Col du Tourmalet, the highest peak in the Pyrenees.

Ride Across the Pyrenees 2012

Open country, old irregular picket fences, just rolling along.

Ride Across the Pyrenees 2012

I'm going to guess that this Chateau is from the 17th century ... late 17th. You can tell by the tiles on the roof.

Ride Across the Pyrenees 2012

9 am in the morning, the day is just beginning, and we've got 100 miles to ride. Life is hard. Don't be fooled by the lime green wind breakers, these guys can ride, though they may not have a lot of style.

Ride Across the Pyrenees 2012

You would never know that France has a population of 63 million people because the countryside is so wide open.

Ride Across the Pyrenees 2012

Rolling rolling rolling, keep them legs turning ...

Ride Across the Pyrenees 2012

Here's one of those 12th century churches staring you in the face. The trick is not to fall for the religious zeal.

Ride Across the Pyrenees 2012

Just a few miles away from the Mediterranean sea, sun is shining, riders are getting tense, 122 miles today.

Ride Across the Pyrenees 2012

If you come to a place enough times you are bound to experience a variety of weather conditions. This year the Mediterranean coast was being buffeted by high winds. We had the unfortunate experience of riding our bikes into a howling headwind for 90 miles when we left the coast.

Porte de Pailheres Ride Across the Pyrenees Adventure

The col du Porte de Pailheres, the first of many cols that we will ride as we traverse the high mountains. As usual one must keep an eye out for the locals.

Porte de Pailheres Ride Across the Pyrenees Adventure

This is both a site of great pleasure and pain, and I cannot explain why it is fun to ride up these mountains, busting your ass ... but somehow it is.

Porte de Pailheres Ride Across the Pyrenees Adventure

Doug at the summit of the Col de Pailheres.

Porte de Pailheres Ride Across the Pyrenees Adventure

Looking down from the top. What you could not have know without being here that it was 45 degrees with a howling wind. Sometimes you win some, and sometimes you lose some.

Ride Across the Pyrenees Cycling Trip and Adventure

The famous Platanes trees that used to line many of the roadways in France, but were systematically cut down because drivers kept crashing into them ... WTF.

Ride Across the Pyrenees Cycling Trip and Adventure

Ultimately society realizes that the roads in the French Pyrenees are first and foremost for bicyclists. Sweet.

Ride Across the Pyrenees Cycling Trip and Adventure

What we have here is only a small portion of the endless climb up the Porte de Bales ... 12 miles in all.

Ride Across the Pyrenees Cycling Trip and Adventure

When you look back from where you have come there is a sense of awe.

Ride Across the Pyrenees Cycling Trip and Adventure

The sign says "Zone Pastoral," and that means the animals come first and you and I second.

Ride Across the Pyrenees Cycling Trip and Adventure

There are moments that you must stop to appreciate the beauty of the French Pyrenees, even if it means stopping in mid descent and letting your fellow riders leave you.

Tourmalet

Top of the col du Tourmalet ... just as hard as last year, and the year before, and before.

Sheep

Even the French sheep go on strike.

Gavarnie

Up the Gavarnie. If I were to describe it in one word, BRUTAL.

Gavarnie

Top of the Gavarnie ... a Unesco World Heritage Site ... EPIC.

Gavarnie

Trust me, it is way harder than it looks.

Brian Purcell Tourmalet

I know, hard to believe, Brian Purcell top of the Col du Tourmalet in France ... and he did not get there running. He actually rode his road bike ... note the shoes and attire for proof!