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Posted on: 21st July 2014

Pyrenees Cycling

Just like it is for the Tour riders, a rest day is never really a rest day. And just like every day except two this year it was to be another wet one. 

Being only day two of our Pyrenees Tour, spirits were not dampened too much, though. With my still-recovering thigh injury (old age has slowed my convalescence), I was happy to lead the slower group today with an undulating 80km ride to the medieval city of Carcassonne. 

I remember racing over the Black mountain range during my career but never got to enjoy the slopes through the forest until I began in the touring business. It has been my fourth time through Les Montagne Noire range since retiring and it amazes me that it is virtually unknown. The quiet roads through the forest were a little reminiscent of the Vosges district where we were last week.

With a rise of just 500 metres capping off at a tad over 780m, the second half of our ride was all down hill. Mid-ride we had a coffee stop overlooking the ruins of the Château de Saissac, one of the Cathar castles, which dates back to the 10th century. 

While the slower group pushed off, the remaining riders enjoyed a short tour of the Chateau. Dylan, Richard, Andrew, and Angelo bought a ticket and had a closer look through the place. 

We pushed onto Carcassonne which, while being spectacular from a distance, proved to be a bit of a tourist trap. After loading the bikes we fought our way through hoards to see what all the fuss is about regarding this UNESCO heritage site. I found the place looking more impressive from the outside, but that’s often the case with these places—you have to go and have a look with all the other tourists to find out!

We got back to the Hotel in the late afternoon to perform yet another bike clean operation before a dinner in the village of Revel. We ate in what was about the only restaurant open in this quaint Midi Pyrenees village. 

Carcassonne was crawling with people with so many food and touristy gift shops that it was a bit gross, and then you find such a gorgeous town like Revel with such great character and totally unspoiled by the tackiness of tourism. It was a nice way to finish the day.

Tomorrow we hit the Pyrenees proper with the Col of Port de Bales. We are still preying for Richie to find his form. Hopefully our screams can turn things around for him. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

Written by Phil Anderson

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