Luz Ardiden, cooked.

Today’s adventure would take us to our first real climb. I say this because the previous ones – Col du Aspin and Col du Soulor both had long sections of 1-2% and averaged out with a 5% gradient. The beast that is Luz, has a average of 9% over 13km. It is totally and utterly ouchy. Here is my Strava file.

We had to ride 35km to the base of Luz and were all rather cooked from our previous days efforts. So the first 20 or so km hurt…a lot! It was also about 30 degrees which literally cooked us as well.

The climb itself was just steep, uphill and steep. My legs were screaming every second. There was no rest, no where to hide on this one, apart from turning the switchbacks where the gradient eased off a little. The heat is the thing that got me. It was brutal, there was not much tree cover for the final 10km, it was beating down on me and I was sweating like a criminal. It felt like it went on forever, the sun beating down. I did not realise how many switchbacks there were until I looked back down. The view at the top was spectacular, so was the descent!

We were in struggle town on the way home, legs were burring, and we were burning. It was now the heat of the day and I was cooking. We were all a bit dehydrated and grumpy. We made a bee line for Argelles for food and water, with a minor detour to get my cable fixed at the local bike shop! The LBS was a Specialized dealer too! By the time the cable was fixed, we were out of there just in time to watch the end of the Tour in a bar, which made the final 20km home quite a crawl. But what a day, we did 100km, 1800m of climbing, all on rather cooked legs, under the searing sun. But I’m not complaining, at least it is not winter!

Hautacam tomorrow and watching the Tour pass our accommodation doorstep! Can’t wait! Though I hope my legs feel better.

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You can follow me on Instagram @lowercasev. All photos taken on GoPro Hero 3+ Black edition.

 

The not so epic adventure, Col d’Aspin and the Hourquette

Today we didn’t have quite the adventure that we did yesterday, but we had fun just the same and finished with a ride time of about 4.5hrs a vast improvement from yesterday’s activities. Today we had 0 crashes, 0 hospital visits, 0 punctures, 0 navigation issues, 1 QOM and multiple animal encounters.

So I’m here in the Pyrenees, doing a tour with a bunch of friends and friend’s of friends. We are a bunch of mixed abilities and strengths.  There is Trace and Dean, Greg (uncle of Ritchie Porte), Mike, Kristina (HCC member and recovering from her crash yesterday), Purdie and The Cycling Life owners Brett and Andrew.

Mike, Purdie and I are all of similar ability and we set off on adventures slightly more epic than the rest in the group. This really only equates to doing  extra ams and extra elevation gained than the others.

Today Mike, Purdie and I conquered Col d’Aspin and the Hourquette. A 110 km round trip with 2300 m elevation, check out my Strava file here.

Col d’Aspin is 13km at average gradient of 5%. It has sections of 2% and the last 2km runs at about 8%. It is deceptively hard. The Tour de France rode up this climb in 2012 – this was made very obvious by the encouragement painted on the road. Go Valverde – he must have had some fans that year! Whilst I wouldn’t be riding as fast as the tour riders, I was keen to set a personal goal and try to nab the QOM. The Strava record for a female was 47 mins. It was definitely achievable.

Aspin does not feel like a climb. The 2% sections make it feel like a flat time trial, until the end that is, where it kicks up in the last few kms. I started the climb…..36 minutes later, I had the QOM!

We rode into a cloud, visibility was low and it was freezing at the top. Lucky Kristina and Dom (our host) were waiting at the top with food and warm clothes. With the next stop on todays agenda being the Hourquette, we had a decent of about 15km. Silly me forgot my trusty long fingered gloves for the descent. To prevent frost bite on my hands, I put Kristina’s spare socks over my hands to keep them warm and functional. It worked… 45 mins later we were at the base of the Horquette ready for our second climb of the day.

The Hourquette. A mild 9km at 8%. It was certainly going to hurt after my effort from the Aspin. Mike left Purdie and I to grovel up together. The decent of the Hourquette was the most beautiful so far. We wound through valleys, along a stream and through fields. Stunning.

That was our climbing over. We cruised home with a head wind at 35km/hr for 25kms, all slightly downhill. (along the way, we bumped into some familiar Aussies doing a bike style tour – small world indeed)

Another great day in the saddle riding in the Pyrenees. We very much look forward to coming home to lounge by the pool and eat delicious food.

Until next time, get on your bike and ride it.

Note: I dropped into the LBS this arvo to see if I could get my cable issue fixed. The mechanic was having a rest day. Will try again tomorrow afternoon. Another day without a big chain ring for me. Supercoach will be happy, no grinding in the BCR….yet.

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All photos taken on GoPro Hero 3+ black edition. You can follow me on Instagram @lowercasev

 

En Route to the Pyrenees

Here are just a few GoPto photos from the transit from Melbourne to the Pyrenees.

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Waiting
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Forever waiting
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Hydrators are winners
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Fast train – 296 km/hr… Strava QOM?

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A
rrive!

 

Women’s 100 today… can’t wait!

All photos taken with GoPro Hero 3+ Black edition.