I overtook Michael – twice!July 9, 2017, 7:00 pm
Thursday 6th July
Early morning start to pick up Barry at Chateau Dunston and a very easy check in and transfer in Dublin. Decided to have a snack in Dublin just to keep us going. Arrived on time at Toulouse and had a wonderfully scenic journey to our overnight ski lodge. The climb up to the hotel was awesome and I’m so pleased I didn’t have to do it like Michael had to.
Eventually retired to bed at around 11.30pm.
Friday 7 July
Another early start – up, packed, breakfast and on the coach for 7am. A two hour drive to our start point and we were off – Barry and I leading out the Tour. I’m sure we would have been first up the first climb – the Col de Latrape a short Cat 1 climb of only 5km with a 7% gradient – if we hadn’t stopped to take some photos but we’ll never know! Anyway onward and upward to Col d’Agnes. This was a testing Cat 1 of 10km which we managed without too many problems.
Then we came to the biggest challenge of the day – the Mur de Peguere. Another Cat I climb of 10km but with ‘short’ pitches of 16 and 18%. I’d like to question the person who described them as short pitches as I don’t think 1km is short!!!! Like Barry, and quite a number of others, I failed to make it to the top. Excuses – old age, unfit, tired but it was the cramps I got in both thighs which isn’t good when clipped in to the pedals! I’ve never been more relieved to see the sign saying next km – 10% – a piece of cake!
Anyway a very difficult day in hot weather. Highlights – the scenery – breathtaking and passing Michael on the Col d’Agnes – it only took him a minute to realise what had happened before he cranked it up and went past me – I never got near him the rest of the day.
Saturday 8 July
This was supposed to be a relatively easy day. Well it was in comparison to yesterday but it still had two category 3 climbs and an uncategorised climb towards the end – what it was uncategorised I don’t know – possibly because it wasn’t 7% or so but it was a tough climb nonetheless. I cycled most of the day with Barry which I really enjoyed – he’s not a bad lad really lol.
It was only 112 miles today but thankfully the sun was only briefly out and although still humid it was bearable.
Highlight of the day – passing Michael again on the first little climb but again after the feed stop I never saw him again as he blasted off into the distance.
Funniest moment was when I was cycling in the lead group of 10 to the first feed stop and Uri (Ulrich) from Germany dropped back and said in a polite way ‘do they never stop taking, I can’t put up with it anymore’ referring to a number of the lady riders who were upholding the fact that women talk a lot.
The sad thing is that Barry and I shared a table at dinner with two of them tonight. Just ask Michael!
Anyway, an early start tomorrow- breakfast at 5.45am and on the coach for 6.30am. Another tough day ahead with rain forecast.
Sunday 8 July
The final day dawned with a 5.15am alarm call and breakfast, case and day bag drop offs and on the coach for 6am.
Arrived at Laissac Severac and set off around 7.30am. First stage a 30km ride to the top of the first category 1 climb. A steady 8.6km at an average ascent of 7%.
The second stage was a bit longer and it started with a category 3 climb followed by a lumpy ride. The weather turned. It started raining hard and when I arrived at the feed stop I was greeted by a lot of riders wrapped in blankets and shaking with the cold. Michael had suffered badly from what he has said and I was also. Wet down. I couldn’t get warm. Started to have negative thoughts.
Anyway the weather dried up and Barry and I set off on stage 3. It was a relatively easy stage but the were a few climbs. Luckily we arrived at feed station 3 just as the heavy rain returned. Fortunately there were trees to shelter under as we ate our rations. At one point I thought that the rain wasn’t going to stop but it did and we set off on the next, and final stage.
This stage was a nice downhill ride until the last category 1 climb. Another 9km at an average of around 7%. Gareth the lead rider did say there were short pitches – a couple of hundred yards of 10% and 12%. Well he was wrong again! The pitches were 14% and 11% and 1km long. A tough ask after 93 miles but with grit and determination we both made it to the top.
A steady ride to the finish we thought – no a couple of nasty little uncategorised climbs to overcome but we crawled up and arrived at the finish at 7pm.
A tough day of 120 miles with 10,500 feet of climbing through some amazing countryside, valleys and very picturesque villages.
A fantastic three days of hard cycling but an experience we’ll never forget.
I know one thing for sure – I won’t be signing up for another!
- July 9, 2017, 7:00 pm
- Category: neil