In Limoux - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

October 23, 2022 to October 24, 2022

In Limoux

Sunday

Over butter chicken and some wine last night we discussed the plan for today.  Winds look mild, conditions seem favorable for a group ride - the Buc Loop, the Frasiers propose.  We’ll ride together on Sunday , and the next day Rich and I will go off on our own while Rachael and Robin take a walk.

Plans change this morning when Team Anderson prepares to head over to the RandR home and one half of the team discovers that she can’t find her cycling shorts.  A frustrating search of the apartment proves fruitless until I decide to look in the sack of recently washed laundry.  Both pair of Rachael’s shorts are there, both quite wet.  Oops!

We call the Frasiers, explain the embarrassing situation, and get their agreement that since it’s windier than predicted anyway this would really be the best day for Rachael and Robin to take a walk.  We bike over to their home so Rachael can leave her grinding gears with Rich as he’s volunteered to have a look at them later in the day.

Stylishly attired for the day.
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Keith ClassenLooking very French outside your Château!
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1 month ago

So the new plan is that Rich and I will ride an out and back, a modest climb up to the Col de Festes, while the womenfolk take a six mile walkabout.  At the end we’ll meet up at the ‘Place’, as the locals refer to the Place de la Republique, the social heart of the historic center of Limoux.

Rich is a much faster rider than I am.  This has everything to do with the facts that he’s much younger and rides a sleeker, faster bike with skinny wheels.  I doubt that the fact that he maintains a more disciplined diet and works out on his trainer when he’s not competing with his fast bike club buds has much to do with it.  If I were younger and had a fast bike too I’m sure I’d be right up there.

Things being what they are though, it’s appreciated that Rich sets a leisurely pace, playing tour guide as we climb nonstop to the top of Col de Festes.

We ride nonstop once Rich and I leave town and don’t stop until the summit at Col de Festes. While I’m catching my breath Rich explains the domain. On the ragged ridge stands the chateau of Puivert; in the distance the foothills of the Pyrenees begin.
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Checking in with the hikers to see how soon they’ll be back on the Place. Soon, so we’d better start coasting.
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And it’s appreciated that he waits from time to time at strategic and scenic spots for me to catch up on the descent as we coast back to town, where we find Rich and Robin patiently waiting  and relaxing over drinks on the Place.  We join them, order our own biere pressions, and gas for awhile before taking a slow walk back to the neighborhood.

I’m a pokey descender and holding up the crew anyway, so Rich stops to wait for the lanterne rouge to finally show up here and there, giving me a chance for a few quick shots. This is the Chateau de Festes, I think.
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Some old bridge, near Bouriege possibly.
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The sky turns interesting as we descend, causing me to wonder.
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Such serenely beautiful country. The Frasiers have found a special corner of the world to call home for themselves.
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Refreshed, we cross the Aude on the way back to the ‘hood.
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Later in the evening we’ll reconvene on the Place for dinner with their friends Terry and Dave, who generously made time in their busy schedules to meet with us.  They’re returning to their other home (in Tucson!) in just over a week and have plenty to do to get ready for departure and to prepare their house for the winter.  It’s lovely dining outdoors on an eerily balmy evening for this late in the season, and we enjoyed the chance to get acquainted with Terry and Dave.  Hopefully we’ll get the chance to meet up with them again in Tucson this winter.

Crossing the Aude again, on our way to dinner on the square with their friends Terry and Dave.
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Limoux’s landmark, Saint Martin’s Church is spectacularly illuminated this evening as we walk back from dinner.
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Monday

Rachael’s bike shorts dried out on the line yesterday and the weather looks fine this morning so the group ride is on.  We walk over to the Frasier’s home about 11 and are soon on the road.  Rachael is almost giddy with appreciativeness over Rich’s successful work on her gears and pumping up her tires, and eager to finally get to shoot some video to add to her growing gallery of CycleBlaze meetups.

She’s been waiting for this opportunity for so long that let’s just start with it and preview the ride, shall we?

Video sound track: Juvenescence, by Jasmine Williams

The video just about says it all, so I’ll just add that it was a delightful ride,  one that’s a regular outing on their local circuit that we’d be happy to repeat ourselves.  We stop at several spots along the way - to admire Saint-Polycarpe Abbey, to regroup and have a snack at a picnic table at the top of the modest pass that marks the high point of the day, and then again at Saint-Hilaire Abbey where they’re kind enough to sit outside and watch the bikes while Rachael and I explore the inside of the abbey for fifteen or twenty minutes.

Unlike us, the Frasiers have many arrows in their quiver to choose from. Today they’re flying on the Paketa and well dressed for it. I forgot to check to see if they have a rack of helmets in the garage to match the their wheels for the day.
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Rich gives Rocky the critical eye. He approves of the shoelaces but wonders why she doesn’t have a helmet to match her bike.
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The first tourist site on the loop: 8th or 9th century Saint Polycarpe Abbey and the remains of its medieval aquaduct.
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The other three confer while I scramble above for a better view of the aqueduct. It was well worth making them wait, I’m sure.
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A last look back at Saint Polycarpe Abbey.
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I’ve dashed ahead on the modest climb to the high point of the day, hoping I could get a shot of the others circling further below. This was the best I could do.
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Grinding it out.
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Still climbing. It’s a modest pass but it’s all we’ve got for the day. Might as well milk it for all the drama we can get out of it.
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Four legs good, two legs bad I think Orwell said.
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Rachael wanted to make this look as impressive as possible and surreptitiously scratched an extra thousand meters onto her climb. Highest climb of the tour, she proudly crows.
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Parked outside Saint-Hilaire Abbey. Just another shot of shutters and a bike. How many photos like this do we need, anyway?
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Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonWell put. A good choice of word.
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1 month ago
The cloisters, Saint-Hilaire Abbey.
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In Saint-Hilaire Abbey.
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In Saint-Hilaire Abbey.
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In Saint-Hilaire Abbey.
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Keith AdamsIsn't there supposed to be a bike in front of those shutters?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsCould be; but it’s inside the abbey. I didn’t want to pay an extra admission fee for the bike.
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1 month ago
Another view of the cloister.
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Keith AdamsThat looks like a BIG cat.
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1 month ago
In Saint-Hilaire Abbey.
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In Saint-Hilaire Abbey.
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In Saint-Hilaire Abbey.
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In Saint-Hilaire Abbey.
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Abbey cat! The literature didn’t mention this small highlight.
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Keith AdamsOkay with Rocky there for scale the cat doesn't look quite so large. But it was nice of them to provide a comfort animal for you, anyhow.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyI can imagine that this cat was most fond of Rachael's shoelaces.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyShe was quite taken with it. I had to frisk her when we left to make sure it wasn’t taken with her.
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1 month ago
Returning to town. There’s wonderful riding to be had around Limoux. It looks like you could strike off in any direction and find a ride to suit your mood and the conditions of the day.
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Day’s end finds us back at the Frasier’s home one last time, enjoying a delicious salmon and salad meal they’ve whipped up for us.  We contribute a couple of bottles of local Chardonnay that Rachael’s fetched from a nearby wine shop and are relieved when they recognize the label and approve.  It’s stressful bringing wine to the table when one of us can’t taste and the other doesn’t drink!

The meal is excellent, the wine’s fine, but the companionship is best of all.  There’s much to talk about, sharing life histories as we continue to get to know each other better.  It was especially enjoyable to reminisce over Portland’s rich live music scene (they lived in Portland for four years while we were living there also), reminding each other of venues we both frequented and concerts we attended.  We brought up many names of artists we both followed and admired: John Gorka, Tracey Grammar, Jeff Foucault, Peter Mulvey, Susan Werner, Curtis Salgado, Brandi Carlisle, and on and on.  I’m certain that there are at least a few concerts we both attended, likely not sitting far from each other - in particular, the first time we heard John Gorka out at the Saint Johns McMenamin joint when it used to be a music venue.  It’s a bittersweet remeniscence in a way, with the live music scene still so shrunken by Covid and Portland having misplaced the magical atmosphere that it had a decade ago.  Maybe it will come back?

It’s been a special interlude for us, and we feel wistful when we leave their home for the last time and walk back in the dark to our apartment wondering when we’ll see our newfound friends again.  Thanks again, Rich and Robin!

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Ride stats today: 55 miles, 4,000’; for the tour: 1,171 miles, 76,400’

Today's ride: 55 miles (89 km)
Total: 1,171 miles (1,885 km)

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