Friday, August 4, 2017

Day 14 Last Climb of the Cycling Tour

Climb To Plateau De Beille

The last climb of the trip and it was called a coffee ride ,meant to be short and enjoyable. Never was.We drove to a small town called les Cabannes 15km from Ax Les thermes and from there it was a 15.8km climb in the hot French sun with 1350m of altitude. my legs had already decided it was too tired and so it was a slow slog . Started out in the big chain ring accidentally but too tired to vene notice till Robyn passed me at 3km and siad I was in the big chain ring. Ther rest of the climb was at least in the small chain ring and made it more tolerable.As the chart will show there were lots of 8% gradients on this climbwhich made it relentless. .I was far too gone and last in the group.Slowly endging up and passed by lots of French cyclist managing a 12kph to my slow 6kph . Even the tour riders climb this at 20kph.

Took about 2.5 hours to get to the top where there was a cafe at a small ski facility and had a coke and a bit of a rest before the fast descent down to the start. the end of a great 2 weeks of riding. I was pretty unfit but fitter and have lots of weight to lose after the inactivity for the last few weeks but the past 2 have helped start that process.

At the top
the last 2km

Day 13 Climb to Port de Palheres

At the top of Port de Palheres after a hot climb

After Tourmalet we left Lux Saint Savaeur on Wednesday 2 August and headed for Ax Les Thermes a small town in the Pyrennes (see wikepedia's description of Ax-les-Thermes )

The plan today was to cycle up to the top and then down the steeper side for coffee and then ride back to the top before rolling home down to Ax Les Thermes.Unfortunately it was pretty hot and the 19km ride up whilst not terribly steep had me coughing badly and I struggled to get up to the top ,taking over 1.4ohr to get to the top.As always there was a great view especially over the East side of the switchbacks ,the steeper side. If I went over I would be struggling to get back up in the heat.So decided to just ride back as the others did the longer ride. It was still enjoyable and great to have ridden up one of the lesser yet spectacular climbs of the Pyrennes.

We rolled back down not going fast as there was a bit of gravel about accept of a new section of freshly laid road.I got passed by a young cyclist about 5km down and about 4 km from the bottom he had crashed.Not sure how .Cars stopped and the ambulance was called . Fortunately there were 2 French speaking drivers who comforted him.We did not dare move him . The ambulance took quite a while to get there and we started down the col as everything was under control. Shows the danger of just a slight error when coming down such climbs.

Picture of the eastern side from the top
lots of horses about

Day 10 Col Du Tourmalet

At the top of col du Tourmalet
On the way up
Getting above the Clouds
View from the top

Today was the premier ride of the Cycling Tour of the Pyrennes. The climb up Col Du Tourmalet one of the legendary rides in the Pyrennes .

There was a group heading to the other side of Tourmalet a casual 60km ride before the ascent but my lack of speed meant I would get dropped and then get lost so I opted for the ride straight up.Leftat 945am after I checked out the bike shop thinking I may rent a Pinarello with Di2 gearing and a 34 cassette which would help but in the end after hanging around trying to decide whether to ride a rental I opted for my bike despite the weight and the cassette. So I started a little late. .

It was not the hardest ride and started with a gentle climb and a few spikes before heading into the cloud cover some 10 kms up. then after clearing the clouds it starts to get steeper and the last 4kms were particularly hard with the last 500m kicking up to 13%.After the standard pictures at the top we did a quick cycle down the other side whilst waiting for the rest . But at about 2.5km the riders were coming up from the other side and so I got to turn backand ride back to the top where we took the group pictures .then after drinks we rode down . did not get faster than 64kph as I was still worred about the loose gravel and lots of cars coming was pretty crowded at the top..

The ride down was great but for the sheep and cars .Great weather and a good ride be it Iam slow with the lack of fitness and weight but the legs are feeling better and stronger. Another ride to record in the list of great mountain rides of France and Europe.

The commentrary below is from Wikipedia:

Meaning of "Tourmalet''

Some Frenchmen believe that Tourmalet translates into "bad trip" or "bad detour" because in French Tour translates into "trip" and mal translates into "bad"; however, the correct language to translate from is Gascon, not French, because of the mountain's location in the Gascony-region and the "du" in the name, which is the Gascon pendant to the French "de". Then Tour becomes "distance", which is spelled "tur" but pronounced "tour", mal is translated into "mountain", and et becomes "the". The translation from Gascon to English then becomes "The Distance Mountain".[6]
Details of the climb


One of the mountain pass cycling milestones along the ascent from Sainte-Marie-de-Campan
The western side, from Luz-Saint-Sauveur, is 19.0 km (11.8 mi) long, climbing 1,404 m (4,606 ft) at an average of 7.4% with a maximum of 10.2% near the summit.[7] Starting from Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, the eastern climb is 17.2 km (10.7 mi), gaining 1,268 m (4,160 ft), at an average of 7.4% with a maximum of 12%.[8] As with most French climbs, each kilometre mountain pass cycling milestones indicate the height of the summit, the distance to the summit, and the average gradient of the next kilometre.
From the pass, a rough track leads to the Pic du Midi de Bigorre observatory. Up to the Col de Laquets (elevation 2,637 m (8,652 ft)) this track is a dirt and gravel road. The part between the Col de Laquets and the observatory is a steep and narrow hiking track.[9] Some terraces of the observatory can be entered for free from the end of the track. Paying an entrance fee, one can enter the actual observatory and also take the funicular down to La Mongie.
Tour de France

Jacques Goddet memorial at the top of the Tourmalet
The Col du Tourmalet is one of the most famous climbs on the Tour de France. It has been included more than any other pass, starting in 1910, when the Pyrenees were introduced. The first rider over was Octave Lapize, who went on to claim the yellow jersey in Paris. In 1913, Eugène Christophe broke his fork on the Tourmalet and repaired it himself at a forge in Sainte-Marie-de-Campan.
Up to 2014, the Tour has visited the Col du Tourmalet a total of 83 times, including the uncategorised passage en route to Peyragudes on Stage 17 of the 2012 tour. The total includes two stage finishes at the summit and three at La Mongie. Since 1980 it has been ranked hors catégorie, or exceptional. The Vuelta a España has also crossed the pass several times.
The 2010 edition of the Tour included the pass on two consecutive stages, crossing westward on the 16th stage to Pau and eastward on the 17th stage with a finish at the summit.
At the col is a memorial to Jacques Goddet, director of the Tour de France from 1936 to 1987, and a large statue of Octave Lapize gasping for air as he struggles to make the climb.
The Souvenir Jacques Goddet prize is awarded for the first rider to cross the Col du Tourmalet summit.
Origins in the Tour
The Pyrenees were included in the Tour de France at the insistence of Alphonse Steinès, a colleague of the organiser, Henri Desgrange. He told the story in a book published soon after the event.[10]
Steinès first agreed that the Tour would pay 2,000 francs to clear the Col d'Aubisque, then came back to investigate the Tourmalet. He started at Sainte-Marie-de-Campan with sausage, ham and cheese at the inn opposite the church and arranged to hire a driver called Dupont from Bagnères-de-Bigorre. Dupont and Steinès made it the first 16 km, after which their car came to a stop. Dupont and Steinès started to walk but Dupont turned back after 600m, shouting: "The bears come over from Spain when it snows". Steinès set off. He mistook voices in the darkness for thieves. They were youngsters guarding sheep with their dog. Steinès called to one.
"Son, do you know the Tourmalet well? Could you guide me? I'll give you a gold coin. When we get to the other top, I'll give you another one"
The boy joined him but then turned back.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Day 9 Ride to Lux Ardiden

the top of the climb with the clouds below
At he top of Lux Ardiden
Todays short climb was a 15 km ascent of the Lux Ardiden which was just at the doorstep of our village and hotel.We left a little later than usual with the climb starting at 1.5km into the ride, a straight 14 km climb with a few steep bits and just a long slow climb for me.There was a bit f low clouds and fogs but after the 8km mark we broke through the clouds and that made for a pretty scenic climb with the switchbacks and clouds below as I climbed towards the top.Took me over 1.5 hours so was a little slow going and my garmin died onthe way up. After the pictures we all decended in to the fog which meant a slower downhill for me .Made it back to the hotel by 11.45..Just 30km of riding today.Then it was off to lourdes in the afternoon.