Monday June 13, 2011, 158 km (98 miles) – Total so far: 756 km (470 miles)
My rental bike is superb, it absolutely flew up the Col des Caougnous. It’s a full carbon Time VR with a carbon Campagnolo Centaur groupset and Campag Zonda wheels. The gear ratios are the same as on the Pinarello so are suitable for the climbs. My luggage set up also transferred without problem. The Carradice bagman frame that supports my saddlebag will fit on any bike with standard saddle rails.
Today’s ride was just shy of 100 miles and included our second highest climb to the Col de Puymorens at 1,915 meters. Some of the roads were busier than we were used to, particularly those around Ax-le-Thermes and the first part of Puymorens (which is the main road between France and Andorra). It was also raining on the Col de Puymorens, quite heavily as we approached the top. Near the summit, we poked our heads through the cloud and were rewarded with some spectacular scenes of high mountains, shards of sunshine and fast moving cloud all around us.
Our hotel is one of two situated right on the summit of the Col de la Perche, it deserves a special mention for its sheer awfulness. Firstly, we were given a pile of sheets with which to make up our own beds, then we were told that dinner would be served no later than 7:30pm – it was already 7:10pm when we arrived so we’d have to work fast. The dinner was just about passable, but having just cycled 100 miles over the mountains I would probably have eaten a plate of freshly laid dogs eggs and thought they were delicious. Our room had bunk beds and no heating to dry out our clothes. Upon leaving, we were surprised to learn that they charged us rental on the bed sheets in addition to the price of the room, making it the most expensive hotel of the trip and easily the worst.
We passed two cycle tourists arriving from the east who checked into the col’s other hotel. I poked my nose through the door and it looked just as bad as ours.