Day 15 – A mountain top to North Beziers via Saint Pont-Thomas,Olargnes and Roquebrun (Pyrènèes)

Waking up on a mountain top was awesome I have to say. I had a look outside and saw a small deer. I turned to get my camera, but it was very skittish and bolted as soon as I made any noise.

I slept until about 11, and was generally quite slow to get going. I wasn’t sure of the route I’d be taking as my twin turbos  (legs) were still a bit tender from last nights effort. Luckily I had a massive decent down the mountain to decide after I had some lunch. I took as many photos as I could from the top, as once you start depending a mountain pass you don’t stop for photos (I equate it to ‘you don’t stop having sex as your about to climax to do the washing up’)

Thinking of the pros that were no doubt slamming it down here at nearly 90kmph an hour. I got myself going. Almost instantly I saw a car coming up the road and was a cruel reminder that I wasn’t racing in the tour and I would be limited to a measly 50kmph (probably for the best as I was carrying a 20kg rucksack and was loaded with heavy panniers)

At the bottom there was a small town called Labastide Rouairoux, which had only the one restaurant open that was serving food all day. As I went in I noticed the gentleman had England socks on. He was the owner and am Englishman from Crawly (jackpot, I thought to myself).

It was 37C outside and he said I could hideaway inside until it cooled down and they were open till 10. So I went for the 4 course menu de jour once more. It was great tasting home made simple food (although I’m going to give a massive shout out to the charcuterie plate which this region is famous for, and he got it all from a butcher who worked across the road)

As I worked my way through each course, we continued to chat away at length covering a variety of subjects, from a modern history of the local area to the ridiculousness of radical religious group (he also had a cat that had a penchant for spicy curries). Him and his family were a genuine pleasure to talk to and were very welcoming.

As I was getting ready to part company, he enquires about my route, and suggested one for me. It would be about 20kms longer and a bit more climbing. It was a route which consisted of cycling down valley passes and had mountain streams and lakes along the way, perfect for a swim he told me. I was well and truly enticed into a slice of that action. We said our farewells, and I set off into the slightly cooler, but still 30C evening.

1st up came the climb, the Col de la Fenille. At only 459 meter high, a baby I’m terms of mountain climbs, but still no walk in the park.

Again almost at the point of me passing the summit, another puncture had struck (front wheel for the 1st time). I didn’t mind as it gave me a small break to recover and take a few more pictures before I decended back to earth.

At the bottom this time I found one of those streams I’d learnt about that day. It looked so inviting. It didn’t take me long to get full on in the buff and jump right in for a swim and a cool down. I was living the hedonistic dream. Even without checking a mirror I knew that my face was beaming with a broad smile. It felt like I had won the lottery.

Drying off and getting dressed, I carried on my ride down through the valley with each turn seeming to present itself with its own new bit of super picturesque scenery for me to drink in. There were long patches of road where I would pedal with my hands out to the side. Soaring like a sea bird at 30kms per hour. A VW camper van with a family inside had caught up with me and was driving along side me, all coping my bird soaring action. It was bliss and as it turns out, a bit too much for me. I became overwhelmed and burst into laughter and then started to cry. I had to pull over it.  Not ashamed to admit, I bawled my eyes out like a little school boy bitch. It was pure elated joy pouring from my eyes. I was most definitely winning this game of life.

Today was honestly one of the best experiences of my life, and so far to date, the best time I’ve had on my bike. I shall send the gentleman from the restaurant thanking him for the route suggestion (I regret not catching his name). Ah well, another day at the office is done

“These eyes, they’re crying”

-Michael Cera AKA ‘the singer’


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