Low clouds this morning but dry roads, so uncertainty and anticipation of the worst up in higher elevations. Rolled back through Seix, unsuccessfully topped up our tires from a motorbike postcard shop, and hit the road up more hills. Quickly we got in a paceline along the river valley towards Col de La Trappe with a Frenchman on vacation. He had more grey hair than Jesse, so probably 20-30 years elder, but the legs and competitive edge of someone much younger. He raced with us up the valley. We encouraged him to join us up the Col, buy he claimed he was packing up that day, and so pushed us until it became vertical for the young guys. For sure he’s feeling smug about that effort tonight.

La Trappe was not huge, but none of these are easy. Descend into Aulus les Bains, a spa town in a steep valley. And we went up. Again. Col d’Agnes is a tough one. Starts out of town at 10% and not much chance to recover. Again I didn’t give Jesse enough of a headstart. Just as I was catching him, he pulled over with a flat. I sat and watched him. I also watched the older couple hiking/shuffling/crawling up this road pass right by us while Jesse deliberated and carefully and slowly changed his flat.

Then we were back on our way. Great switchbacks and road grafitti from many years ago. Virenque, Jaja, etc. These roads have cycling history written all over them.

Angès tops you above a high mountain plateau, some of the most spectacular of the Pyrenean landscapes. Small descent then right back up over 3.8km to Port de Lers. That’s where my bike started making funny sounds. Not to deter me I danced up the hill. Then a huge descent to a town called Vicdessos which considering the name of this trip was an auspicious spot for lunch.

It was not to be. These people take the time of day and their siestas very seriously. It was 2:15 and settled for sandwiches. Jesse doesn’t like to settle with his lunches.

Back on the road is where my spoke broke. Ping. And a giant wobble. So few spokes on my rear wheel means when one goes the thing won’t roll anywhere near true. With the biggest town on our trip just 18km away of course they’d have a high performance shop to fix it. And in Tour de France country. Nope just a bar/motorcycle rental spot with a friendly guy telling us we better go to Pamiers, 40km out of the way. Eventually we’re in a taxi racing to the shop closing time. A bit of luck that they’re a recognized Mavic support shop and the power of a case of beer and our tales of touring and it’s fixed the same evening. Thanks Cycles Passion.

Then we hauled to Foix, missed our plan to get to Ax les Thermes but have an early start tomorrow to finish the trip in Ceret. Giddy up.