When we woke this morning, most of us assumed that via some random space portal we had been transported to Cumbria. There were slate roofs, sheep on the hills, flowing rivers and glimpses of larger peaks shrouded in cloud – oh and it was raining! Hot milk with our coffee and a fresh croissant restored us to the here and now and at 8:30 we rolled out.
The Weather: Geoff’s optimistic quote as we left: “hey it’s not raining!” was clearly taken by the Pyrenean God of Rain as both a complaint and a challenge as it then continued to rain for the next 6 hours. Finally, later in the afternoon the sun came out and there was enough blue sky to make a pair of sailor’s trousers. The temperature, which had been hovering in single figures, finally rose. The morning had seen most cyclists warm going up and quickly freezing on the descents.
The Route : after a few wiggly climbs the morning began with its first scheduled climb. At this point George took flight heading for sunnier climbs in Spain and had to be physically restrained! The Col de Marie Blanque 9kms taking us to 1035 M above sea level. Ascending in the rain the climb started gently saving the steepest segments for the last 4 kms. All scaled this in good spirits before the freezing descent complete with hair pins, switch backs, cows, horses and cattle grids made of pure glass. A couple of near misses brought us to a cafe stop and a decision by Mountain High that the Col D’Aubisque (17 kms 1709 M, 3 degrees and heavy rain) was a col too far for the morning due to the weather! A new route via Lourdes brought us to the foot of Tourmalet – the subject of tomorrow morning’s challenge.
Today in Numbers :
1810 m ascended
2 cattle grids
27 chocolat chaud
11 litres of water left on cafe floors from dripping lycra (estimate)
180 degrees – the maximum it is possible to spin and not fall off on a cattle grid (GS)
1.5M – the amount of rainfall in the past 48hrs
2.5 – the hours it has not been raining in the past 48 hrs
What have we learnt today?
If struggling on a climb do not climb off your bike and repeatedly kick the rear cassette and derailer mechanism (this technique by an American cyclist was witnessed in true Basil Faulty style).
Boot covers do not keep the water out and are now to be regarded as a fashion item (not functional!).
The white lines really are slippery – it’s not just an excuse they use in the TdeF.
Garmins are probably more trouble than they are worth.
Mountain High really do want us to survive the week and continue to look after us very well!
And finally, after much discussion on the road as to what the foam was that was eminating from the rear of Mr Coulson’s cycle shorts we can confirm it was frog spawn. We assume after so much rain the frogs had taken safe haven in the higher ground of said shorts!
So if you are settling down to watch the Great British Bake Off this week, spare a thought for us! We have had more soggy bottoms in 2 days than an entire series of the bake off and we haven’t done the show stopper yet – bring on Tourmalet!!