Day 7 : The first Pyrenean cols
Col d'Osquich, Col de Gamia, Col de Burdincurucheta, Col de Hégui-Xouri, Col de Bagargi
Immediately after leaving the campsite we were up in the mountains. The Pyrenees were much greener than I had expected. The first Pyrenean col was the col d'Osquich. It wasn't very long or steep and we knew this wouldn't be the most challenging climb this vacation.
View from col d'Osquich
After that col came one of the steepest of the entire 100 cols tour: col de Gamia. We needed to catch our breath a few times on the way up, but that was also because it was one of the first really tough climbs this vacation. Later we could usually make it to the top without stopping.
On top of col de Gamia
After the steep col de Gamia came a just as steep descent, within a few seconds we rode 60 km/h. In the following village we needed to get a stamp. The bakery was already closed, but we obtained a stamp in a small bar.
We found a bench to eat at. A guy was hitchhiking and looked like he had been standing there all day. So far we had seen a bunch of hikers, but no hitchhikers. He had a sign saying 'Madrid. We discussed if hitchhiking would be better than cycling. Probably you would meet more weird people. Mentally it might be just as tough because you would often need to wait half a day in the middle of nowhere before someone would take you. Eventually, he found someone to give him a ride. You could tell the lady said something like, 'but I am not going all the way to Madrid'. We also went on our way, the col de Burdincurucheta was next. I thought this was the toughest col of the entire vacation. The temperature was around 30 degrees, and it was this trip's first really big mountain. It was also very steep, with a few kilometers having an incline between 10 and 14%. I needed to stand on my pedals at the sections steeper than 8% to keep moving.
Bram climbing the Burdincurucheta
A photo doesn't really show how steep it is
My smallest sprocket ratio was 32-26. Bram's was 22-23, so he could still cycle normally. That didn't make it less challenging, though. We stopped once to catch our breath and had a nice view from the top.
Fortunately, there was someone at the top willing to take a picture of us.
Pronouncing the col was just as hard as climbing it.
After the col followed a short descent. There was a shop next to the road where we bought some ice cream and filled our water bottles. There were no other customers, but we did find a relief map of the Pyrenees. The lady working there explained to us where we were. She asked which route we would cycle and wondered if it wasn't tough to cycle here. It wasn't that bad as long as we kept taking breaks now and then.
We ate a bit on the following col, de Hégui-Xouri, and walked further up the mountain to take pictures.
On col Hégui-Xouri
Then it was just a small climb to col de Bagargi.
From there onwards, we had a nice, steep descent. I reached 75.5 km/h. We needed to brake hard for some corners, while we could take others at 60 km/h. When the road got a bit more level I almost ran over yet another snake. Today's campsite lay a few kilometers after where the climb to the col de Soudet started. Fortunately, that part wasn't steep yet. On the campsite we pitched our tent next to two other cyclists. The campsite's owner arrived to tell us where to pay. He wrote in his book that 'velo hollandais 2' ordered three baguettes for the next morning.
The people next to us were also Dutch so the owner said : "La bas les Hollandais en pied, ici les Hollandais en vélo, et les autres Hollandais en vélo, il sont pas des voitures en Hollande?". Or in other words: 'back there are Dutch people by foot, here two that are cycling, and there another two by bike. Are there no cars in the Netherlands?'. After showering, we went to see if the bar was still open. It was. They had a fridge with drinks to take out. A bottle of wine seemed the best choice. This time we drank red instead of white wine.
Back on the campsite, the other two cyclists had returned. They recognized my 100 cols tour shirt. One of them, Piet, was cycling it as well. He had started in Saverne and would be cycling for four weeks this year. In Carcassonne, he would take the bus back home. His brother-in-law, May, had joined him for the last week. They had found a store somewhere and started cooking their pasta. We drank our wine and went to sleep.
Distance cycled : 96 km.