St Gaudons to Tarascon-Sur-Ariège

Woke late, as a result of the hostel’s shutters keeping the room into complete darkness and took ages to pack (as a result of still being half asleep from yesterday’s exertions).

The day started easy enough with a 60 metre drop out of St Gaudons, but that proved to be the last descent until the end of the day.

Stopped at a patisserie for breakfast (having missed the one I had paid for at the hostel), before commencing the long slow climb into the mountains along side ‘la Salad’. It was only 9:30 but already the temperature was in the high twenties.

Eventually the river turned right but the road decided to ignore it and follow a much smaller river. I have suffered at the whim of these before and was concerned, with good cause.

Suddenly the climbing started to accelerate, nothing overly severe, but yesterday had obviously taken a fair bit out of me, as I was very soon puffing along in the granny gear.

The ascent was a fairly relentless 500 meter climb and I was pleased to reach the Col des Caougnous signpost at 947 meters.

On stopping for the obligatory photo I was struck by the fact that I didn’t seem to be at the top of anything, but it was still a good enough reason to scoff the left-over breakfast provisions I had been carrying all morning.

Despite the sign-post there was still a further 300 meters of climbing, but the gradient was a little kinder and the next sign post for the Col de Port was quite clearly the summit with the road disappearing out of sight downhill.

I didn’t lean my bike against the signpost for a photograph for fear of aggravating one of the two bulls grazing right next top the sign. At least I think they were bulls (big, horns, no udders) and they seemed pretty docile actually. Bull or cow, they were certainly more intimidating than their plastic counterparts found at the top of some Swiss cols.

As usual the hours of graft gaining all that altitude were undone in minutes coming back down. The increase in temperature was also noticeable and by the bottom the heat was stifling.

Decided to stop early and, on the outskirts of Tarascon-Sur-Ariège, the distance ticked over to 100K; which I took to be a sign that this was the place to stop at. Found a reasonable looking motel, it wasn’t as cheap as I hoped, but the food was good and there was plenty of it.

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Day:7 of 15
Date:25 July 2007
From:St Gaudons
Distance:102 KM
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