Heading out from Laruns onto the Col d'Ausbisque under a thick blanket of low cloud. You could be thinking it's just going to be one of those days. Visibility drops to below 30 meters. Then 20 as you continue to climb up into the thickest cloud you will ever see.
Some days this could be all you'll ever see, but not today. Slowly out of the enveloping blanket of thick cloud, rounding another hairpin and out into the brilliant sunshine. What was an im-possibility day turned into one of the very best days ever.
Welcome to the Aubisque.
For anyone who watches the TV coverage of the Tour de France just for the scenery, this is the galley road. One of the most iconic roads in the Pyrenees. Anyone who has ridden this road will not forget it. Assuming you can still vaguely remember your own name after the effort required just to get here. The views of this road and the views from this road will live in your memory for as long as you live.
The very first Tour de France mountain stage included the Col d'Aubisque and the Tourmalet. It was considered the stuff of nightmares. Today it's a cycling playground. A gift for cyclists, a unique gift that just keeps giving.
The Col d'Aubisque has been described as the most beautiful road in Europe, if not the world. I don't know about the world, but if you only ride one road in these Pyrenean mountains, this is the road to ride.
If life is a road, you might consider a road less travelled.
One with a view to die for. With smooth curves and a continuously changing perspective. Challenging, even demanding, but in a way that leaves you stronger. The company is good, as is a cafe at the top. Wall-to-wall sunshine can be too much of a good thing, so throw in some homemade mist and cloud, enough to retain a little mystery and keep things cool.
Avoid the industrial heartlands - the pollution-filled cities. The mechanical heart of a society that chews you up and spits you out. Concentrate your efforts towards the sunlit mountain tops and follow the road that leads to a better place.
The clouds in this part of the world are made on site. They don't float in from the distant horizon or sweep in from across the ocean. They are custom-made way down in the valley, where the sunlight meets the retained moisture. Spinning around the lower slopes before rising up the mountain sides to create great works of art in the sky. Constantly in motion, forming and reforming into majestic cathedrals of clouds.
It's easy to believe that cycling is nothing but effort and toil, but that's not true. There's also exhilaration, excitement, and the full-on adrenaline rush. Descending off the mountain tops is not for those of a nervous disposition. You'll need to let go and find the flow. But you don't need me to tell you that.
© davidt 2022