|Looking up, second day near Pau|
Do you ever look up? said my mother from the support vehicle. Make sure you look up sometimes and look at the views. (As a little aside, my legs and rearage were dotted with the vicious bites from the flies that travelled with the asses. Quelle atractif!)
|Toulouse Lautrec's palace in Albi|
|Loading up in the rain, Toulouse|
|Happiness pills served for breakfast in the Grand Balcon, Toulouse|
|Buskers at a farmer's market, Gaillac|
|At the airport, travelling light, carrying our bikes|
*Ignorance is bliss: If we'd really thought about this trip Kevin and I would have realised we were totally unprepared. Oh well, it was torture but we finished. My "takeaway"? (Sorry I hate that word) Don't think about things too much, just sign up.
|Me overeaching...near Pau|
* Bon Courage Papa! My 76-year-old Dad cycled much of the trail with us, completing the 5,607 ft Col d'Aubisque.... after two beers and a hearty lunch. What's his secret? "To be honest, genes and good luck...some of my friends could not do this but they can do Sodoku." Training? He has ridden the same mountain bike around the beach for 12 years and occasionally enters events with his retired mates on their three-speeds. And of course his bride of 52 years, Madeleine, was in the support vehicle to cheer him on.
|Dad and Mum in Toulouse|
* The Pyrenees is not the prettiest sister of the bumpy areas of France: If you want to be beguiled and enchanted best opt for the castle-clad lushness of the Loire Valley or the lavender loveliness of Provence. But for challenging mountain ranges, the Pyrenees. There the roads are empty and perfectly paved, the motorists are unfailingly polite and patient and the hoteliers are happy to see you. One even offered to do all our washing; oops, pardon Madam I didn't realise you only meant cycling stuff. (You can take the girl out of New Zealand....)
*As usual I brought way too much luggage and, as usual, ended up wearing the same thing every evening. This Oakland dress emerged as my "dinner" uniform, replaced mid-way by a stretch lace dress bought in Niaux sales. My takeaway? Don't bring too much to France, they have stores there.
|Mum and me in my Oakland "dinner uniform"|
|New "dinner uniform" in stretch lace.|
* We left the kids at home with a babysitter. Never mind the grueling hills...Kevin and I have spent 14 years in the trenches (both of us calling, er, barking orders) bringing up four kids. Out of the trenches would we actually have anything to say to each other? Turns out we can still have a good laugh over an apres GeenandToneec and keep the lines coming. And there is no other lycra-encased arse I would rather be following....