The second day of cycling on my France 2012 trip featured two climbs that aren't very famous. They are just big climbs like you can find anywhere in the Pyrenees. The roads are so small that they can't be used for a big event like the Tour. On the way up on these small climbs you always run into tiny villages that have been there forever. These villages are shuttered during the week and have people in them during the weekends. They are country retreats for people who live two hours away in Toulouse - and bustle a bit more during ski season.
Most of these towns are just names - nothing really happens there, there is no mail delivery or any businesses.
I was speaking with one of my trip mates, who lives in France for part of the year. I asked him about the little towns and he gave me the above information. He asked me if I knew how to tell when a town was "dead" in France - I didn't know and he told me that you can tell a town is dead when it no longer has a bakery. This made sense - folks in this part of France love their bread.
The first climb was to Lercoul. It is one of these "dead" towns way up high. I was the first one up to the top and it felt great. It was pretty hot this day. On the way, we passed Siguer. When you leave a town in France, they have a sign with the city crossed out with a red stripe. Sort of different. Here is my Serotta Fierte IT that has taken me over so many mountains and tens of thousands of miles.
The descent from Goulier was harrowing and I almost ate it a few times but made it OK. One of the guys I was with ate it but he was just scraped up a bit.
Before I get to the ride data, a slight sidebar. I bought myself a Garmin 500 with the heartrate and cadence attachments and I absolutely love it. It just works. The cool part is that you can share your rides with others and view your rides from above - with this one you can see how the roads switchback over and over as you ascend the mountain. Here is a link to this ride.
Ride data for the day:
Total ride time: three hours eight minutes
Total milage: 29.6
Average Speed: 9.4 mph
Total ascent: 4449 feet
Max Speed: 37 mph
Average cadence: 74 rpm
Average heart rate: 124 beats per minute
Max heart rate: 159 beats per minute