Day 166: Belcaire to Ax-les-Thermes

Friday September 16, 2005, 32 km (20 miles) – Total so far: 10,184 km (6,328 miles)

It was a fairly easy ride over the three cols to Ax where we’ve decided to stay because of the weather. The pass to Andorra is one of the highest of the tour and at this time of year it can get quite rough up there. We will do the whole climb to Andorra in one day.

Ax is a great little ski town and is often featured in the Tour de France. We saw ‘Go Lance’ painted on the road as we entered the town.

We are lucky to be staying in another great campsite which is still fairly busy. They’re still charging ‘haute saison’ prices, so it seems the season lasts a little longer in the mountains. A lot of the campsites back in Valras had already closed.

I recently sent an e-mail to Hilleberg (the Swedish company we bought our tent from) explaining all the problems we’d encountered and I received a reply from them today. Basically they said most of our troubles were ‘due to normal wear and tear’. Having thoroughly researched the marketplace, we bought and paid a lot for what we thought was ‘the best’ in the hopes that we would avoid these troubles. They did bail us out when we were in Italy by despatching some replacement sections of tent poles free of charge and we’re grateful for that service. However, we were hoping that for £500 the tent would last the whole tour.

Our first big climb of the day: the Col de Sept Frères

Our first big climb of the day: the Col de Sept Frères

It's surprisingly green here considering how far south we are and the recent droughts

It’s surprisingly green here considering how far south we are and the recent droughts

Our second col, a little higher

Our second col, a little higher

1431 meters, this is the highest we'll be climbing today

1431 meters, this is the highest we’ll be climbing today

The municipal campsite in Ax-les-Thermes

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