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July 18, 2005 - Drive to Argeles-Gazost

Ride Hautacam









We left the hotel for the very short drive to where we’d start the climb to the ski resort of Hautacam. Since it was early an a bit chilly, we decided to find a bar in Argeles Gazost where we could get a cup of coffee. We found a rest area on the main road that was a convenient place to park, but had to move our initial parking spot to one further away when it seemed like some of the vacationers were starring at us a bit too much. It seemed like this may have been a place where folks stayed when they couldn’t afford to stay elsewhere. 









The climb up Hautacam was really nice and there were extended level sections in the climb was about 8%, there were much steeper sections to compensate for the flatter sections. Unfortunately, there was a low cloud ceiling, so visibility was limited and we expected rain the entire climb. Luckily, we didn’t see rain during the climb.





When we got nearer to the top, the road was cluttered with cow shit and urination that made the climbing even more difficult as you had to steer around all the piles.  There were also large herds of mangy sheep near the top of the climb

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Here’s Tom up at the top of the climb.


Either Paul and I wimped out or we were smart enough to stop at the main parking lot, which we assumed was the top. We actually were quite concerned at not finding Tom and we rode around the parking lots a bit trying to look for him.

There were no facilities at the spot where Tom and I stopped and it was getting pretty chilly at the top with all the cloud cover and no sun, Paul and I took our customary pictures at the signpost.

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Turns out, we met one of the riding buddies of the Welshman that Tom rode to the summit with.  We were just about to bail out and head for the valley below when we noticed Tom coming down the rugged road from the summit.  When he got down to us, we socialized for a bit and then descended as fast as we could to reach the warmer weather below.

Total Ascent Distance: 14.5 km (8.7 miles)

Distance Climbed: 3550 ft

Time: 1 Hours 14 Minutes (Ascent)

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After getting back to Lourdes, we decided to take a bit of a walking tour of the city.  We started at the cathedral since it was so close to the Hotel Moderne where we were staying.

Next we walked along the parade grounds to the citadel, which is perched on top of the highest spot in town.  As such, it dominates the view from every direction.

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When we made it back to the tourist areas of Lourdes, we ran into our Welsh buddies doing what it seems Welshmen do best …. Drinking a few pints! Unfortunately, I don’t remember any of their names with the exception of Wayne, who rode to the top of Hautacam with Tom. He is seated in the center of the photo.  The big guy was hysterical and obviously he didn’t ride but rather drove the support van.



After getting some dinner, we decided to check out one of the evening processionals that we’ve been seeing people go to all week.  The crowds were very large and the whole square was filled with pilgrims.  Strange dichotomy.. bikers and pilgrims.

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Afterwards, we returned to the hotel room and got cleaned up and settled in for the evening. Tom made a trip out to buy some souvenirs and call home. When he did, he saw these mimes performing on the streets.  Lourdes is really an interesting place.  I guess it wouldn’t be France without some mimes.


As usual, Tom was way ahead of Paul and I on the climb. Turns out he met a guy from Wales in the UK on the climb. Since they were both ahead of us, they continued on beyond the main parking lot to the very top of the mountain that was about 1K further up. As it turns out, there was a restaurant/bar way up at the top.