Merci!

View from the Col du Soulor, French Pyrénées.

Most of you have probably surmised by now that I’ve been away for the past two weeks.   More specifically, I’ve been in Europe following the Tour de France and testing my own mettle as a cyclist in the French Pyrénées and the streets of Paris.  In the past two weeks, I’ve logged 710 km (I’m too tired to figure out what that is in miles) – most of it in the mountains over the same Cols and descents as this year’s Tour de France.  I’ve climbed (and descended) 10 mountain passes totaling well over 10,000 m of vertical ascent, reached speeds of 75 kph, rubbed elbows with more than 10,000 other cyclists in the 181-km Etape du Tour (finishing in the top 10%), seen six stages of the Tour de France, sought autographs from the world’s top pro cyclists, and sprinted against some seriously fast guys in Paris.  Add gorgeous 200-year old hotels, sumptuous French cuisine, and the comradery of 17 other like-minded individuals (including my lovely wife), and you have the makings of a trip that will not soon be forgotten.

My sincerest thanks to Anne McCormack, Alex Wild, James Trager, and Rich Thoma for filling in for me during my absence with their guest posts here at Beetles in the Bush.  I hope you enjoyed their contributions as much as I did (a safe bet, judging from the many comments their posts generated).  I’m a little bleary-eyed from the trip back home today, but life should return to normal quickly.  My trip was light on natural history – sometimes one has to make choices, and for this trip I decided to maintain cycling as the focus.  The big camera stayed home, and the point-and-shoot was used mostly for capturing race action.  Still, scenes like the one above – taken from the ascent of the Col du Soulor – captivated the natural historian in me and left me wanting to learn more about the unique flora and fauna that must exist in these gorgeous mountains.  Perhaps next time…

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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18 Responses to Merci!

  1. Kurt says:

    Spectacular view there. I’m sure it makes you want to repeat the route over and over again😀

    • I did the Col du Soulor twice (once from each side) and the Col du Tourmalet three times! I also repeated two climbs from my 2007 race – the Port de Balés and Col de Peyresourde. Fantastic terrain!

  2. peteryeeles says:

    Wow that must have been an amazing trip. I’d love to have a crack at riding (or pushing) my bike up the Tourmalet!

    Did you take your bike over?

    • Yes, brought my bike over in a hard shell. It didn’t arrive with me, but I got it two days before the race so no problem. I had not a single mechanical issue the entire trip – not even a flat tire. Lady luck was on my side I guess.

  3. Welcome back! We spent two weeks in Belgium and France in early June. I took care of doing the arthropod watching/photography for you. Still have lots of arthropod pictures to put up. Will do so over the next month. Congratulations on your cycling success!

  4. John Oliver says:

    Welcome back. I’m glad you seized this opportunity and it sounds like you made the most of it. Congratulations!

  5. James C. Trager says:

    Welcome back, Ted. I was on the other side of the Pyrennees in Spain a few years ago, and your picture really brings back the memories.

    I’ve got a lovely beetle id. for you when you’re rested up.

    • I’d love to see the Spanish Pyrénées – I understand they are a bit drier than the northern side.

      Thanks so much for your help in “holding down the fort” while I was gone.

  6. TGIQ says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed your trip, Ted, and took time to soak up all the cycling goodness. It’s nice to have you back🙂

  7. jason says:

    So glad you had a good time, Ted.

  8. Wow that’s a spectacular vista, makes me itch for some travel… although I’d have probably died on a bike in those mountains!

    • Hi Chris – the photo does not even begin to convey the true scale and impressiveness of the vistas.

      I chose to go 75 kph down the mountain, but one can go much slower if they wish🙂

  9. Mary says:

    Late to the party here, but it is great to read about your adventure. Congratulations to you – and your wife – on a great and exciting trip. Your photo invokes a real nostalgia for sights European.

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