Old Bike Hand to Newbie Ebiker!
The drive thru Cave - Mas D'Azil
A boucle, just under 70km or in old money 42miles with a total elevation gain of around 1200m (3900ft)
Riding parallel to an to an old railway track (voi vert) used as a cycle/walking/bridal path, with a slight incline of around 1%, we put the power on at the lowest setting. The ride takes us past a cave system with an underground river – which is open to the public for boat tours – but enough of that we are on the bike! We then start to get on to those beautiful Ariege lanes – meandering through tiny hamlets where they are akin to the land that time forgot.
A third of the way into the ride sometimes we take a slight detour to Lac du Mondely, a narrow, winding, hilly road (up to 6%) leading to the beautiful sapphire lake surrounded by woodland and pastureland; with a little electric assistance, it still gets you feeling the thrill of the ride but without the burn. Brief stop, to admire the view and then back on the road to the cave.
We enter this small ancient town of Mas d’Azil, with cafes and boulangeries randomly placed along the main drag, in itself the town has an interesting past, but we cycle on up the hill, following the river below, heading to the Grotte. Remember to take off the sunglasses as the road approaches the cave – approx. 500m in length, lit, with the noise of the river Arize very present – it is so good you have to do it twice!
On the other side a welcome pit stop – a small café offering snacks, meals or just a quick coffee. By the side of the river, looking back to the mouth of the cave.
Refreshed, we take the road and head home, the first few miles of this ride we follow the river, peaceful and fairly flat, no assistance necessary; gauged out rock to the left, old water mills and ancient houses to the right. A few km’s short of home we traverse one of the undulating lanes, with a gradient of up to 9%, but with the electric assistance, the couple of hard km’s are soon eaten up and we are up the climb in no time. With wood and pastureland to the left and the Pyrenean mountains to the right – nourishment for the soul!