We stopped at the Col d'Aspin for view-gazing and photography, and met two cordial German bikers taking photos for their tour brochure. They advised against the Nürburgring (too expensive, crazy drivers) and invited me to join one of their tours of Croatia, but unfortunately I've mislaid their business card. A little further on my bladder demanded I make a private unscheduled stop among what turned out to be a nest of wood ants, only for me to find the rest of the party had stopped for lunch five minutes down the road at a restaurant with proper, non-hole-in-the-floor toilets.
Learning that the road ahead was blocked by snow, we stopped at the base of the Pic du Midi and took the fifteen-minute ascent by cable car, which was as terrifying as it was stunning. Logic demands that the car always shakes like that and is perfectly capable of making it through the tiny gap between two pylons, but I was unsure enough of the latter to shut my eyes briefly. More beautiful views at the summit, choughs enjoying the thermals below us, and an observatory which delighted me by looking just like the one in Tintin: Destination Moon.
Our return journey to the Hotel des 2 Nations mirrored the ride out, and it was at this point I finally managed to shake off my workaday commuting vibe and start to throw the scoot around a bit. I stopped assuming that I'm a worse rider than everyone else in the entire world ever and jockeyed for overtakes, although admittedly preying on the slower and tireder bikers.
Dinner was delayed due to bike and accommodation troubles on various sides, my iPod decided to go tits-up for, as it turned out, the remainder of the holiday, and I spent some time outside the next-door bar nursing beers and grievances against the returns of the inconvenienced parties and drinking Campari and orange juice (soda being apparently unheard of in France).
But the waitress was just as charming.