Arreau to Arreau – 132 miles
We planned to ride East over the Port des Bales to St Lary, where we had stayed 5 years before, for lunch and then make our way back to Arreau.
Managing to start as a group we headed on the D618 over the Col de Peyresourde to Bagneres Luchon to refuel. We’d ridden the Peyresourde before but only East to West and had liked the road but not the surface as they were resurfacing the descent. Resurfacing now over we appreciated what a nice road it is in both directions, pretty fast and flowing in both directions with the exception of a few hairpins towards the summit. We then retraced our steps for 3 miles before turning right onto the D51 towards Mayrenne. This road had not been a through road until the previous year – just a forestry track at the top – but had been surfaced so that the Tour could come over it. Now the road was surfaced all the way to Mauleon Barousse to the North. It’s generally nice to try a new pass for the first time and this was no exception although the view at the top was impaired by low cloud. Running down to Mauleon the road was generally single track but no less pleasant.
Through Mauleon we took a combination of the D924, 121, 681 and 39 – all very nice and flowing – through Juzet D’izaut towards Sengouagnet.
Amazingly we were all still together with Phil in the lead showing the way. Just before Sengouagnet Phil took a right turn onto the D618 which would take us all the way to St Lary, and waited in the junction so that all behind could see him and follow.
Of course in order to see him you had to be travelling at less than Warp Factor 9 and so Gaz, who periodically sees the red mist descend after some slow stuff, had decided on a red mist moment and didn’t see the turn. Neither did Taj who would chase Gaz at every turn and was pursuing him. Kyle did see Phil but also saw that Gaz and Taj hadn’t seen the turn so set off after them. It took Kyle 5 miles to catch them up. Andy and Cat had seen the turn and Phil had sent them up the road with instructions to stay on the road, go over the Col du Portet D’aspet and into St Lary.
Eventually, all were reunited at St Lary although some had taken a further wrong turn before the Portet D’aspet and headed for Boutx. However the marvel of mobile telephone technology ensured that everyone made it to the Auberge de L’Isard where we had stayed 5 years before.
After lunch at the Auberge we headed back over the Portet D’aspet and turned left onto the D44 and over the Col de Mente – the scene of Taj’s knee down demo 5 years before – to Boutx and St Beat. We then rode South on the N125/230 to Bossost and turned onto the D618 and over the Col du Portillon – a nice little pass – to Bagneres Luchon, and back over the Peyresourde to Arreau and dinner. The following day we would be leaving for Carcasonne.