Rob Ennals > Travel > Simon and Rob Invade and Conquer France

Day 8: Racing Eric

Arreau -> Aspet


  • Peyresorde: 500m
  • Col de Mente: 800m

Concerned for my safety, I pressed the importance of finding a brake cable as soon as possible. Fortunately, Simon's powers produced a bike shop that sold what we wanted. Once we had bought the cable, withdrawn more money, bought food, and retrieved Simon's helmet from where he had left it in the bike shop, we set off to climb the Col de Peyresourde together with Eric. Eric and I were both in poser mode, each desperate to show that we were the faster cyclist. We thus both did the climb at considerable speed, leaving Simon peddling steadily behind. At the top, we stopped to eat strange regional food from the obligatory strange regional food shop, talked about how hard we were, and then did the descent.

At the bottom of the descent, we said goodbye to Eric, as he was crossing into Spain to do some big mountains, and we were pulling North, in the direction of Ax Les Thermes, and then Carcasonne.

The tables were now truly turned. I had knackered myself from my energetic posing, and was struggling to keep pace with Simon, who was making a point of being fresh and bouncy. I was thus desperate for a reason to stop, and was hoping something on my bike would break. Fortunately my panniers soon came to my rescue, and swung into my rear wheel, forcing me to a stop. I said some soothing words to them, and tried to rearrange them. Simon made a few comments about how much stiffer his panniers were, and that being why his panniers were better behaved.

A few miles further on, my panniers did the same thing again, giving me another opportunity to stop. Simon was unkeen to allow me a reason for rest breaks, and decided that the panniers needed to be fixed. He suggested that what we needed were two pieces of metal to strap to my pannier rack, to prevent the panniers bending round. Such pieces of metal were then immediately found, metres from where Simon was standing, and were fixed onto my rack with duck-tape. This worked beautifully!

The second climb of the day was the Col de Mente. My knackeredness and Simon's apparent freshness continued throughout the climb, and I resorted to using back pain as a reason for making occasional stops. At around half way up, Simon's stomach decided that it was time to eat, and we stopped to eat the compressed contents of my panniers. Simon declared that the correct geological term for our food was "vitrified". The effects were most visible on our roquefort, which had managed to go very runny and distribute itself evenly across everything in my left pannier. The small proportion of the roquefort that had remained in the packaging was however still very nice.

Simon's stomach thus pacified, we proceeded to finish off the climb. Towards the top we were somewhat worried to hear what sounded like wolves crying. On reaching the top, we were relieved to see that, although the noises were coming from wolves, they were nicely contained in a big enclosure. Simon admitted to being somewhat knackered, and suggested we do the next descent a bit slowly. Ignoring this decision, we made a nice fast twisty descent into Aspet, where we found a lovely little campsite. On arrival, Simon declared need of a shower, and walked straight into the ladies toilets.

[Simon - Aspet was a small town, tucked out of the main tourist route. It seemed to be run by a French equivalent of the mafia, who were nevertheless friendly enough to buy us a drink, talk to us about the internet and our journey, and keep tabs on the activities of the village...]