BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Monday, 31 December 2012

Luchon to Lourdes. More mountains  more winding roads, and more snow. Are we bored yet? No way!


We made a new friend at the hotel this morning.

Meet Mr Rabbit.

We don't know his real name, in fact we don't even know if he's a he. This was the coolest rabbit. He followed us around the back yard at the hotel, for ages. When we stopped walking he'd snuggle up to our feet. We went out, and when we came back he bounded across the yard to meet us. Very cool.

We enjoyed a late croissant breakfast before heading to the laundromat to wash our clothes, which were well overdue. While they were washing we sat and had lunch at the cafe on the corner. It was then that I heard music to my ears. An Aussie accent from a family on holidays. I couldn't let the opportunity pass and said hello. We chatted for about fifteen minutes and swapped travel stories. It's funny, but it did make me feel a little bit homesick. Let me know when Gillard is gone and we'll come home.

With our clothes now smelling spring fresh we made our way back to the hotel to pack the bike. Luckily I had some expert assistance from Mr Rabbit.

 He's fluffy, and warm, and cuddly.

We had to be careful where he walked.

I'm sure I could fit him in here...

As much as we enjoyed Mr Rabbit's company it was time to go. The first obstacle was to exit the backyard.

It was a tight fit.

Then, without any warm up, we were into the mountains again. Up, down, up, switchbacks, snow, down, up, more switchbacks, more snow, lots more snow, down, and so on. It was another mind blowing ride. At one point I saw a deer stumble and fall on the road. I think it had jumped over a fence on our right. It promptly got on it's feet and leaped over the fence on the left of the road and bolted up the side of the mountain. It looked very much like a 'roo to me. We were enjoying a good, but demanding ride. The roads were nowhere near as much fun as yesterday, but the scenery made up for it. Suzanne was happy sitting on the back playing with the new camera and learning how to use it. Here are a few of the results.

 The road we took out of ????

We begin our first climb for the day. 

 Are we going up there?... sure looks like it! 

We rode through another cute little town... 

...then a few minutes later, looked down on it. 

l just like this shot.
Not bad considering it was shot straight into the sun.

This was all the open stuff. One section we rode was one car width wide, with no guard rail, and with very tight switchbacks. It wasn't a problem though, there was plenty of run off on the switchbacks. Most had four of five hundred feet of run off. Unfortunately it was straight down. One turn was so tight I couldn't get the bike around and had to make a three point turn. 

We stopped on top of one of the mountains for photos. I think it was Col d'Aspin. I took one glove off planning to remove both, and my helmet to take some photos. Once I had one glove off I rethought my original plan. It was just a little bit chilly, so I ran around and took some photos with all my gear on.

Suzanne checks out the view...

 ...and what a view it was.

 How high were we?

Check out some of the roads to get up here.

Then it was down again...

 More mountains, and more snow.

 Another stunning sun set coming up.
I guess that should be going down?

More twisties. Fun ones now.

Part of our ride for the day.

Suzanne told me she had seen lots of horses with big hooves. Not Clydesdales, just normal sized horses with big hooves. I guess I must have been watching the road because I didn't see any. Something we both saw were the hundreds of small piles of dirt in the paddocks that looked like they had been neatly dug out of the ground. Can anyone enlighten us as to what they are?

Something else we both noticed were the crazy push bike riders. I was struggling to ride a motorcycle up some of these climbs, and these guys were pushing pedals to get to the top. Some of the roads we rode were part of the Tour de France course, so who knows who we may have passed today. If you were out there training today Cadel, I hope you appreciated how much room I gave you when I went past.

There are signposts on the side of the road everywhere advising cyclists of the present elevation, elevation at the top of the climb, and the gradient. They just scared me, so I didn't look at them. Something that was cool to see were some of the messages painted on the roads by the fans for the cyclists.

Everything was going well. We were making good time, even though we'd left Luchon a little later than I would have liked. We rode up a very long steep bit of road into another ski area. The problem was there was only one road in, and the same road out. Our Tom Tom had struck again. It only took us about an hour out of our way. Time for a change of plans. Our overnight stop would be at Lourdes now, not Pau.

After about an hour of riding I saw something that lightened my mood considerably. So much so that I had to stop, turn around, and go back to show Suzanne. There was a dog that looked like a large version of Dakoda, sitting on top of a wall about twelve feet high. He was happily watching the traffic go by, but we reckon he was waiting for his owners to come home. Unfortunately all our photographic gear had flat batteries.

We rolled into Lourdes in the dark at about six thirty, spotted an Ibis Hotel, and made a bee line for it. Suzanne worked her magic and minutes later we were in a very comfortable room getting ready for dinner. We were both pretty worn out after two big days of riding. It's been brilliant, but it's also been hard work.

We might need another day off tomorrow...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Simon Suzanne, the small mounds of soil would probably me 'mole hills' They are cute little critters that live underground. (Dave Addo)