The day dawned incredibly hot and sunny again, fantastic for the views and scenery but not really ideal for a day of so much climbing and many of the guys in the group paid the price, including Dave unfortunately.
We started with a short section to the base of the Col de Marie-Blanque and proceeded to climb, and climb and climb. 4 k from the top when it kicked up to an average 11 - 13% I decided to unclip and enjoy a walk up admiring the views and generally just enjoying being there (there is no way I could ride at 99% of my max heart rate for more than 3 miles!). Dave powered up ahead and reached the summit half an hour at least I should think before me!
From there we headed to the Col d'Aubisque. Now this was my kind of climb, the only sections over 10% were very short and within my power range without blowing the heart rate sky high for too long. I absolutely loved it and when I finally arrived at the large statues of the three bikes there were donkeys and horses wandering around (with foals) so just about the perfect finish for me. Here was the lunch stop with clear views across to the Tourmalet (apparently very rare). Unfortunately Dave started to cramp up 2 k from the summit and didn't feel great thereafter, (in fact he very sensibly called it a day 10 miles from the summit of Tourmalet and rode up in the van).
We descended for a short way off the Aubisque and then climbed again to the Col de Soulor.
The last challenge of the day was the Tourmalet and my what a climb it is ... some 22 ks and kicks up to averaging 7-8% 10 miles out from the summit. This is not for the faint hearted and in the heat of the afternoon I can honestly say I don't think I've ever been as hot on a bike before, I must have drunk 5 litres of water going up, and I mainlined Haribo sweets - this was certainly not a Grok, Primal or EF activity by a long way and required some bending of the carb intake 'rules'! LOL! However, I made it to the top several hours later, and a mighty achievement it felt, although of course tinged with sadness for Dave who on yet another of our cycle adventure was unable to complete a section and the one climb he really wanted to 'tick'.
However, tomorrow is another day. Hopefully he'll be recovered enough to enjoy the short 92 km hop to the tour guides base at Luscan with just the Cols d'Aspin and Peyresourde to concur.
Some pictures for of the day ... out of order, but it's late!
|Col d'Aubisque - my favourite climb ever!|
|View from Aubisque|
|Famous Tourmalet summit cafe|
|Donkey and foal on Aubisque|
|Iconic statues at Aubisque summit|
|Marie-Blanque - a lovely walk and|
a lot steeper than it appears here LOL!
|Tourmalet conquered; Cavegirl, Tigger and Guiseppe!|
|The Aubisque summit|
|Long and winding road up to Tourmalet|
from the Summit
|A fellow Marie-Blanque 'sufferer'!|