September 17, 2011

Pyrenees Tour: Foix and its castle

I suppose every trip of any length will have its flat days, and this was one.  Hmmm, this is a cycling blog, that could be confusing. I don't mean flat as in a lack of hills, I mean it as in less than exciting, thrilling, engaging, demanding. Beige ...  flat. You get it.

Tarascon-sur-Ariege has, I'm sure, many fine things about it, but I was there only as a place to  stop to visit the Niaux Caves. On my original route (which I altered to get to ride yesterday's fabulous climb of Port de Lers) it was the closest town to the caves that promised a hotel and a place to eat. For me, Tarascon itself wasn't engaging enough for even a few hours.

Today, I awoke to drizzle, low clouds and a forecast of thunderstorms, and made the regretful decision to skip the ride back a few miles into the mountains for my 1:30 p.m. tour of the Niaux caves. Crowds are strictly limited and you must book in advance. I didn't care for the idea of starting my short (only 15-mile) ride from Niaux to Foix, on fairly busy roads, late in the day, in storms and thunderstorms. At some point it doesn't matter if the ride is 15 or 35 miles, thunderstorms and traffic and bikes are not a happy mix. And I definitely wasn't going to spend a second night in Tarascon-sur-Ariege.

So, I arrived in Foix early, with more than enough time to visit its very famous castle, its cathedral and explore its medieval central village. Just outside the castle was a large fig tree that provided a handfull of ripe fruit that the birds had left for us humans.

After that, a shower, some dinner and get ready for tomorrow. Not enough riding to make me happy. Not the art and art history that I had been hoping for.  Flat, beige.

But, I'm safe, secure, dry and inside, all good and well-appreciated things. Without what would have been a white knuckle stressful ride on wet roads with traffic speeding by. The last photo is at the end of the day, with a view of what I avoided.

Heading to Limoux tomorrow, through the Corbieres. I don't have any idea what to expect, but already miss those big mountains that I was in ... just yesterday.


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