An extra day in Ax-les-Thermes - From Munich to Spain to France - CycleBlaze

May 12, 2024

An extra day in Ax-les-Thermes

Another col conquered by Dave

The vertical line on the elevation profile indicates the top of the climb which on the map is close to Mt Picaucel.
Heart 0 Comment 0

From Dave: When we awoke, the weather forecast had changed somewhat. Now, we were looking at a clear/partly cloudy morning with rains holding off until the afternoon. Jill chose to take advantage of the unexpected stay and rest her ankle and knee as well as catch up on the journal. I was a bit restless and was regretting not taking advantage of the nice, cool weather and decided that I would do some of the ride we had planned for today and go up towards the Col de Pailheres which tops out at 2000 meters. My plan was to ride up as far as the weather and my comfort allowed and then turn back to town.

As can be seen from the profile, this was going to be a steady slog of a climb beginning with going back up our steep descent into town. The pitch rarely got below 7% and at times reached 15%. The weather at the outset was perfect, temperatures in the mid 60s and little to no wind. The climb followed the Ariege river all the way up to its source. Wildflowers were abundant and the river was cascading 

On the way out of town.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Letting you know what's up ahead.
Heart 3 Comment 1
Karen PoretStill smiling…;)
Reply to this comment
1 week ago
What would Dave's pictures be without the requisite waterfall shot?
Heart 2 Comment 0

Not to overstate the obvious, but climbing without being weighed down with 45 lbs. of panniers is a real luxury on a trip such as ours.  I used one of the panniers and only packed lunch, extra water and my rain jacket, a far cry from my normal load. I was able to ride much faster up the hill with the electric motor set to the minimum boost setting. I had the road almost to myself with only a couple of cars having passed me on the way up. It was wonderfully freeing and I was really enjoying the scenery. 

The road was in excellent condition.
Heart 1 Comment 1
Karen PoretAre the pink poles to note edge of road , and/or snow height marker?
Reply to this comment
1 week ago
Heart 0 Comment 0
The ski area, Ascou, was about half way up.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Vistas such as this were available all along the way.
Heart 3 Comment 1
Karen Poret Breathtaking!
Reply to this comment
1 week ago

The last few kilometers were tough. Rarely did the grade drop below 9% and there was a stiff headwind all the way up. Clouds were starting to build and I wasn't sure how far I could make it before having to turn around. I kept making little goals for myself; see if you can make to the first set of hairpins; let's go to the tree line; etc. Pretty soon I was only 2k from the summit and there would be no way I was going to turn around now. And making it to the summit was definitely worth it!

From the top you could see the hairpin turns of the descent down into the next valley as well as some wonderful views of the Pyrenees.  I met a couple men at the top who were from Boston. They said that this col was on their bucket list. They had rented bikes for the climb. 

On the way up.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 1
Laura ClarkWhat a special day for you, David! It's still kind of a head shaker to me that you are over in France doing all of this. Nice that the two guys from Boston were able to help you with your photo documentation. What gorgeous pictures from your conquered col.
Reply to this comment
1 week ago
At the top.
Heart 7 Comment 0
One of the Boston boys approaching the summit.
Heart 1 Comment 0
The guys I met at the top.
Heart 1 Comment 0
A view from the summit.
Heart 3 Comment 0
The hairy hairpins on the descent into the other valley.
Heart 7 Comment 0

The weather was starting to look bad and I decided to skip lunch and get back down to town as quickly as I could. The clouds, the temperature and I descended fast. It was then that I was metaphorically slapping my forehead in realization that I had forgotten to pack either my rain pants or my gloves. By the time I reached town my hands were frozen and I was shivering all over. A nice warm bath awaited me at the inn.  It was a great ride and am glad I did it.

From Jill: Yes, I had a physically lazy day but we were behind on the journal so I used the time to catch up and figure out tomorrow’s ride. I was glad that Dave had a chance to do a signature climb. That evening we had fondue (one of my favorites) at Le Petit Montagnard. It was rainy and cold  by then so fondue was perfect. The French sure love their meat and cheese. We ordered a salad to go with the fondue and it came with cheese, bread, duck and foie gras on top. It is impossible to get a salad that is vegetable oriented! But, they still taste great.

Tomorrow we have another big ride ahead of us and as we left the restaurant, the weather was beginning to clear. 

Cheese, bread, meats and more cheese.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Things were beginning to clear, we hoped.
Heart 6 Comment 0

Today's ride: 40 km (25 miles)
Total: 537 km (333 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
Comment on this entry Comment 1
Karen PoretTotally fun! I’m exhausted just from viewing this! And, that fondue dinner to boot..
Reply to this comment
1 week ago