Friday, 24 June 2011

The final episode!

Nous sommes arrivez en Cerbere!

An epic trip from the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean across southern France over 18 cols, 450 miles and some 35,000 feet of climbing in 6 days has come to a close.

We've had four excellent sunny days, and two cooler ones which was just about right; blistering heat throughout the trip would have been just too much.

Today's run into the coast amounted to around 54 miles and included a minor col not worth mentioning (I have to say I've become somewhat blase now and 'hills' in the UK will never seem the same again)!

Here is the final course profile.

The advertised neutralised zone appeared to be at Tour de France pace and I was off the back of the 'pack' waiting for stragglers fairly swiftly and then alone when it was clear that said back markers wanted to ride by themselves!  Hey ho.  But I really enjoyed my ride in the sunshine watching the scenery morph to a Mediterranean landscape from the more lush temperate flora of the higher Pyrenees.

At the front it was eyeballs out for the last 20 ks and Dave was the first over the 'line' so he now appears a happy bunny - in fact he has just said (we are currently travelling back to Toulouse in the support vehicles) "I'm happy with today's performance"...  I rolled along and collected a lost 'traverser' (Richard from Newcastle apparently) from another group and we rode the last 20 ks or so together following my route card.

The final few ks descend gradually down to the coastal town of Cerbere and are beautiful; long sweeping bends with views across the sea and glimpses of our destination appearing and disappearing.  Quite an experience and a wonderful finish to a truly epic ride.

I do believe life is one long journey so the place I've reached now won't be an end point but when I consider how I've ridden this route, even compared with last year's end to end, never mind the decade of racing before, it's clear to me that I have changed enormously.  And Dave's comment above probably amply highlights the difference between our attitudes now!  He had said he was riding this route for enjoyment but it was clear pretty much from the off that wasn't the only focus.  Hopefully he'll be able to find a balance with his drive to race and what his body can actually tolerate.

Any future adventures for me (hopefully with Mr Grok), and I'm sure there will be some, will be of a very different nature, much more organic and unscheduled where we can just follow the flow and eat and move around more in line with how we have evolved!

Thank you for following the journey ... the final photos ...

Last cafe stop of the trip


Another adventure completed

And the reward!

My faithful companions

Au revoir x

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