Today was the first day in the Pyrenian Mountains. The Pyrenees are in southern France, on the border of Spain. It was nice to hear a few “amigos” tossed in with all the “amis” I usually hear along the road.
Once again Ben & I got in late. We arrived at the foot of the climb around 11 pm. We were DETERMINED not to sleep next to the main road and be buzzed by 18 wheelers again, so we went down a side road and parked there.
We were setting up when 3 french guys asked us for a flashlight. We got to talking and they invited us to their camp site for some bourbon. It was Ben’s birthday, so we couldn’t say no!
I’m beginning to realize that the Tour de France is basically like college football to the youth of France. They show up to the event really early so they can tailgate and drink all day. The three guys we met – Simon, Jason and Julien – had been drinking since 7 am that day. And that was the day BEFORE the Tour! You can say what you want about the work ethic of the French, but they definitely aren’t lazy about their Tour tailgating.
I chatted with the three French guys and managed to pour out my bourbon on the ground when they weren’t looking. It was tasting like the diesel gas we’ve been using for our car this trip.
We went to bed around 1 and they were still up. When we got up at 9, the three of them had been up for an hour already, still working on their bourbon. I hope liver transplants are covered in the French healthcare system.
We had a great ride up to the top of the Mur de Peguere. The climb overall was about 10k, but the last 4 k were between 12% and 18% grade. Unbelievably steep. And the roads were incredibly narrow with no shoulder on them.
Ben and I had a great run in the costumes and managed to get on TV twice. They even had a shot of me waving to the peloton as they went by.
On to the next stage – 3 more to go until we are done!