Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

For more information on the Cafes I have visited and the latest cafe cycle news go to http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/

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Friday, 22 June 2018

Across the Pyrenees Day 6. (Climbing Col de Pailheres)

Across the Pyrenees,
Day 6,
Ax les Thermes to Saint Cyprien.
The final day of our trip had the second longest climb and it started right out of the hotel. But before that it was the last chance for a hotel to deliver me the Ultimate croissant (UC). It turned out to be the best breakfast croissant of the week but it lost points for being mini and currently holds second place overall with one more croissant opportunity to come later today.
Croissants too small to be the UC
It had been raining during our petit dejeuner but the clouds were now clearing and the day warming up as we set off up Col de Pailheres (18.2 km, 7.1% av, 12 % max, 1300 m ascent). Once again Des (the machine) challenged me to race to the top claiming he was going to get into my head (he didn't) but once again he shot away at the start. By a kilometre into the climb he had built up a decent lead and was almost out of sight. I was sad that he learnt nothing from yesterday and had not remembered it was a marathon not a sprint.
Des races off into an early lead on the final climb of the tour
I caught him up at about 3 km and although Des was determined not to let me pass as soon as we hit the first steep slope he was entering my manor and I knew he I would have to teach him another cycling lesson, that hopefully he will never forget. So that’s what I did for him.
Leaving Des behind as the gradient kicked up
It was very cold and cloudy on the rest of the ascent so I was looking forward to getting my warm clothes from the van when I summited.
Looking down the switch backs as the weather got colder
But apparently I had done it very quickly and beat the van up. When he arrived Claude said it was the fastest he could remember (probably due to: a. Des”s domestique work at the bottom and b. He has been trained to say that to the punters like me) so I’ll be getting the colouring set out as soon as I’m home to make myself an official fastest climber certificate to go with my KOM one.
Waiting for the van at the top
As it was cold at the top and very misty, then there was no time to stop so after I had put my jacket on I set off on the down hill part. Although I seem to be good at getting up a Col I’m not so tasty going down, especially with the number of hair pin bends on this descent. 
A tricky set of bends at start of this descent
Once down the steep bit it was another more gentle rolling ride to Axxt and our cafe stop. As I entered the town Des caught me up clawing back the 10 or so minutes he lost on the climb.
Outside what turned out to be best cafe of the week
Le Central cafe had no croissants but they directed me to the local patisserie which really delivered. It was the last croissant in town and turned out to be the best I had found to date so I crowned it the Ultimate croissant.
The Ultimate croissant
When bit by bit the other members of the party eventually arrived they all told me that it was the best coffee all week, my hot chocolate had been good too making central cafe Axxt the number 1 cafe and I will recommend it for the TdF riders to stop at for refreshments.

By the time everyone had made it to the cafe, had some coffee and got ready to set off again, the villagers had arranged a leaving party for me and Des as we had been there so long we were now part of the local community.

From here things petered out a bit as it was a further 70 mile ride to the sea along some fairly flat roads, although with wind behind we flew along.
Very fast stretch of road if a bit dull
There were two more mini cols to hop over but neither worth writing home or blogging about. As we got nearer the sea the roads seemed to get busier but with our new found peloton skills we made it there in one piece.
Top of last mini climb as we waved goodbye to the Pyrenees
We had accomplished the mission and made it to the Mediterranean. It was so hot by this point I did find myself diving in for a celebratory cooling off.
About to dive in the Med
So what have we learnt.
1. If you get up all the climbs first and become the self appointed KoM winner then no one else but you seems to care, however often you mention it.
2. It is possible to find very good croissants in France (quel surprise) although occasionally not as good as the ones at Heathrow airport.
3. The best cafe I find on a trip is often the last one and readers may start thinking I’m doing it for dramatic effect (I’m not).
4. I’m now in the mood to watch the Tour de France when it starts in a couple of weeks although I could have just read the build up in cycling weekly and saved a lot of effort.

Route

Cafe ratings
Hotel du Fronton, Itaxassou. 5.8
Cafe Du Souloe 5.4
Terrace cafe Tourmalet 6.1
Tourmalet summit cafe 5.9
Le Faisan Dore 7.3
Le Globe 8.1
Le Central, Axxt 9.1

Croissant ratings
Venue
 Freshness
 Frenchness
 Flavour
Score
Heathrow
4
3
10.9
17.9
Bellevue hotel
5
4
12.7
21.7
Krakada patisserie, Itxassou
7
7.8
14.1
28.9
L’Auberge de l’Etable, Montory
7.5
7.3
13
27.8
Chez Pierre d’Agos
2
2
6
10
Terrace, Tourmalet
7.8
7.5
16.4
31.7
Top Tourmalet
2
2.5
8
12.5
Hotel Pons
8.1
8
17
33.1
Le Faisan Dore
5.6
6.8
13.8.
25.9
L’ Horizon hotel
8.3
7
17
32.3
Le Globe cafe
7
7.6
15.8
30.4
Le Chateau
8.7
6.4
17.6
32.7
Patisserie, Axxt
8.2
8.1
17.2
33.5

Stats

 
Miles
Av Speed (MPH)
Time on Bike (H:M)
Metres climbed
 Day 1 
81.9
15
5:27
1751
 Day 2
71.5
13.37
5:20
2010
 Day 3 
60
11.4
5:05
2499
 Day 4 
84
14.7
5:55
1836
 Day 5 
65.3
13.1
4:59
1787
 Day 6 
95.6
14.34
6:39
1777
 Overall
458.3
13.71
33:25
11660

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