The directions for this part of the 100 cols tour were less precise than during our first trip. The route itself was very beautiful and pretty, though. Usually, we cycled through quiet backroads. There were some tiny roads going through forests or straight up mountains. The route through the Pyrenees mostly followed the 'circuit des cols', which was well marked. The big advantage of following a pre-existing route is that it is much easier to follow, saving time. I wouldn't mind cycling an existing route again, but most don't contain many mountains. I found the day with the Soudet and Marie Blanque the prettiest. The 120 kilometers from the Pyrenees to the Mont Ventoux was relatively flat.
Our daily distances were lower than on some previous trips, but we also didn't take any days off, and the route was much more mountainous.
The weather this year wasn't bad, but then again we were in the south of France. The first five days were hot. When we left the Pyrenees the weather got worse, with a lot of fog and drizzle. One day we had a little rain and on another day a few downpours. During the last few days, the weather was nice again. We haven't felt cold often, unlike our vacation in May. We both got pretty sunburned.
I carried even less stuff than last year. Not carrying cooking supplies saves about half the total volume. If you don't carry cooking supplies you also don't waste time cooking and doing the dishes. I used everything I carried at least once, except my tick pincers. I only carried one t-shirt and one pair of socks. That worked well because the weather was good enough to dry them quickly after washing them in the shower. I brought two cycling shorts and, while I might have gotten away with one, I'm not sure if it would be wise to cycle in a wet one. What I did miss was a spare outer tire; I might bring one next time.
It was a surprise that I had managed to sit on my racing bike for the entire vacation without getting injured. I didn't have sore hands, neck, or back. My 32 front and 26 rear sprocket combination was a bit too high to climb the steepest mountains with luggage easily. I am not sure if smaller ones are available for my Campagnolo gear set. Bram used the same bike as on our Black Forest and France trips. That one is at least 5 kg heavier than my bike, but more durable. He also had smaller gears, I think 22 front and 28 rear. Next time I will probably buy a new bike, because my current one is shot by now.
We were in a nice rhythm from day one. When we reached the Pyrenees our daily distances went down a little. Climbing the Aubisque on our day off was a classic. The rain during the last few days and cycling 280 km in the last two days really completed the experience.