Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Zen and the art of Col bagging!

By way of a change first up some pictures of the day and then a few thoughts.

Today's course profile
the run in to Col de Port isn't that spiky
the GPS had trouble locking on today

Dave at the top of the hardest climb today

And I made it too some time later LOL!

As you can see, different weather today!

Blogging late tonight and with my feet elevated to aid recovery so apologies if this reads less well than previous reports; it's quite difficult typing upside down!

126 ks today and around 2,100 m of climbing I think (the GPS is not locking on well in some of the valleys so the totals are a bit awry.

The climb of the day was undoubtedly the Col de Portet D'Aspet.  Averaging 10% for some 5 ks it rears up to 14% for a section and two sections of 17% for several hundred meters.  A tough climb but doable and I really enjoyed it ... I've cracked this Col bagging lark I think, more of that anon.

We had a big shift in weather overnight.  The anticipated thunder storm came 'big time' last night and really cleared the air and dropped the temperature significantly which was actually a welcome relief after 3 blazing hot days and many 1,000s of feet climbed.  As you can see by the time we made it up the Col de Port we could easily have been back in Scotland!  

These trips are always fascinating as they throw together some really diverse personalities and it's interesting to see how people cope with the tiredness etc and how they go about tackling such an adventure.

We basically have a couple of sets that have been before and know each other, a pair of married couples and a group of middle-aged guys plus a lone Australian who has flown over just to do this trip!  Then there is Dave and I.  We all seem to rub along OK although some are handling the fatigue better than others!

So, what's the secret to Col bagging, well for me it's going with the flow, finding the moment in the present and not looking too far ahead, if you accept the mountain and don't fight it, it does work with you - this is the way of the Tao and I really found my sweet spot again just being in the moment.  So my secret, when you start the climb you select your easiest gear and ride as slowly as possible, this allows you to keep your heart rate as low as possible and gives you a chance to take in the scenery.  As the gradient increases you apply more pressure to the cadence but keeping at the minimum effort required for forward motion!

Today lots of the guys came past me on the Col de Portet D'Aspet, huffing and puffing and fighting with their bikes as the tried to 'beat' the mountain.  At the top some were in bits just as they had been on the Tourmalet when I  passed at least half of them with my different approach.  I arrive feeling really pleased with my achievement, having noticed the wild flowers and views on my way up and ready to tackle the next 100 miles, they on the other hand are dripping in sweat and have burned a not inconsiderable number of matches for the day (and once you have burned all your supply it's goodnight Vienna as many found on the Tourmalet).

I was thinking about this aspect as each one passed by and it occurred to me it's about acceptance.  I no longer feel the need to push myself like that, I have nothing to prove, I bagged the Col just as they did, does it matter how fast I got up there - some would say I got better value for money as I was riding it for longer!  And bear in mind these guys are riding super lightweight frames, some weighing half what my steel beauty does!

Anyhow, it's now very late and I must sleep and explain Haribo's revenge in the next post.  Tomorrow is the last big day before Friday's spin down to the coast and the end of this adventure.  

Cavegirl has left the blogosphere!

1 comment:

  1. Weather doesnt look as bright today, still some amazing photos though. 2,100m climbed, blimey makes me tired just typing it out. Hats off to you super women x