Arriving in St. Lary-Soulan I passed through Arreau which was our start location for riding last year when I was on a Trek Travel trip. I was driving a small portion of tomorrow's stage to Luz-Ardiden. I noticed the tour route signs and thought how neat it would be to have one after the Tour goes by.
Adrian Register met me at the hotel in St. Lary and we drove over to Luchon. It was chilly, perhaps about 60 degrees (15 C). We drove through town and were having a hard time finding a legal place to park. We found a space on the street and Adrian talked to a small business owner whether we could park there or not. He offered to let us park in his small parking lot in front of his store. Very nice.
The owner then advised against riding Port de Bales as a heavy storm last night brought down a number of rocks on the road. When we told him our destination was Superbagnères he advised our proposed climb was "pretty easy." We think he was being sarcastic.
We left town and started climbing immediately. The scenery was stunning even as a light rain started to fall. Conditions turned worse. We talked about turning around but wanted to finish the climb.
The cold rain started on the descent. We were unprepared. We had to be careful on the wet roads but hurried back to Luchon as fast as we could.
Superbagnères is a ski station The climb is listed as 18.5 km and climbs 1,170 meters (6.3%). It rises to 1,800 meters (5,905 feet). It has been used in the Tour six times, most recently in 1986 when Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault battled up the slope and again in 1989.
We were both so cold and wet when we got back to the car we kept the heat on high all the way back to St. Lary.
We also noticed as we passed through Arreau that the directional signs were gone. And appeared in the windows of the campers along the route. I would never remove the sign before a stage but apparently many do. These are the best souvenirs from the Tour. My mission would be to find a sign after the Tour. A very difficult mission for sure.