This morning was not easy — very early start, limited to boulangerie fare only the kind loaded with sugar (you won’t last long with just that in your body), and being attacked by a homeless man’s dog. This dog chased us around the old city streets of Foix, as we’re yelling and even kicking the little guy. He even got his teeth around Jesse’s pedalling foot, and because of that we missed the town sandwich shop. We started climbing at a misty Ax les Thermes, and expected an ugly Port de Palhieres. It would be the second highest spot on our trip at 2001 metres. The climb got uglier, wetter, and more exposed, as my legs became more and more empty. Jesse pounded up this Col to the exposed socked in top. Nicely done sir. I was running on empty, sunglasses glazed over, and totally broken. Low point of my trip.

There’s not much up top there and it was wet and very cold, so we grabbed our photo and headed down while our bodies were still warm. With iced braking surfaces, wet roads, and howling chilled winds, we slowly descended to warmer parts. Very slowly.

First stop hopefully for warm tea but instead some bread, cheese, and yoghurt. Real food.

Then down down down. We got a little off track in the mist and rural towns but eventually we’re on track up the 1506m Col de Jau. My legs are back and happy I found ’em.

Now it’s a long descent in Mediterranean climes. Warmer. Ancient ruins and towns and a proper lunch finally in Molitg les Bains — tortellini with oh my sauce.

We’ve just got one more range to cross and a proper destination very close.

We paceline through the flat valley, up to 60km/h. The flats seem unusual — the speed stays high and the km’s tick away, much unlike the mountains!

Then we turn back onto the classic D618 Route des Cols up to Fourtou. The vegetation is now pricklier and squatter so we know we’re approaching the sea. At the Col we see our first sign for Ceret, our destination. I want one mote Col, the Xatard. Jesse wants Ceret. Somehow we end up heading downhill.

Then some massive views of the Sea and we’re close. A spin through the magical and seemingly undiscovered village of Ceret, an excessively, humorously large bottle of wine for a gift, and off to Michael’s. Quickly we have in front of us beer, many bottles of local Roussillon, steak, more meat, piles of food. And it’s all consumed over stories from our completed bike ride.