|The finish up the Plateau de Beille.|
It was an unexpected surprise to be accompanied by literally hundreds of cyclists on my way up the mountain's 16 kilometres of unrelenting gradient. I was looking forward to this climb for 3 years but I never expected the company. It was obviously a sponsored ride, even bigger than our Audax Alpine Classic back home in Victoria.
|The Spanish Pyrenees from the Plateau de Beille.|
We enjoyed a late dinner at a tapas bar in Ax-les-Thermes, a small French spa town known for its sulphurous hot springs. Its waters, which were used by the Romans (of course), are claimed to treat a smorgasboard of human maladies, including rheumatism and skin ailments. The springs were developed during the medieval period to treat soldiers returning from the Crusades with leprosy.
|The bottom of the Plateau de Beille climb, at Les Cabannes.|
|World War I monument at Comus.|
The drive back to our accommodation at Comus, via the Col du Chioula, was testing in the extreme. While the pitch darkness and drifting mist made navigating difficult, the narrow, winding road, with its series of lacets towards the top, made the going almost as slow as climbing my bike in broad daylight. The one positive was the absence of another vehicle along the entire journey. Pulling into the car park at our near-deserted accommodation, high on a hill, we presumed that only a pair of Australian tourists would have been silly enough to have been driving on an a remote road like this on such a bleak evening.