Sunday, October 29, 2017

Wedding Anniversary





25th Wedding Anniversary Video

Friday, August 4, 2017

Day 14 Last Climb of the Cycling Tour

Climb To Plateau De Beille

The last climb of the trip and it was called a coffee ride ,meant to be short and enjoyable. Never was.We drove to a small town called les Cabannes 15km from Ax Les thermes and from there it was a 15.8km climb in the hot French sun with 1350m of altitude. my legs had already decided it was too tired and so it was a slow slog . Started out in the big chain ring accidentally but too tired to vene notice till Robyn passed me at 3km and siad I was in the big chain ring. Ther rest of the climb was at least in the small chain ring and made it more tolerable.As the chart will show there were lots of 8% gradients on this climbwhich made it relentless. .I was far too gone and last in the group.Slowly endging up and passed by lots of French cyclist managing a 12kph to my slow 6kph . Even the tour riders climb this at 20kph.

Took about 2.5 hours to get to the top where there was a cafe at a small ski facility and had a coke and a bit of a rest before the fast descent down to the start. the end of a great 2 weeks of riding. I was pretty unfit but fitter and have lots of weight to lose after the inactivity for the last few weeks but the past 2 have helped start that process.

At the top
the last 2km





Day 13 Climb to Port de Palheres


At the top of Port de Palheres after a hot climb

After Tourmalet we left Lux Saint Savaeur on Wednesday 2 August and headed for Ax Les Thermes a small town in the Pyrennes (see wikepedia's description of Ax-les-Thermes )

The plan today was to cycle up to the top and then down the steeper side for coffee and then ride back to the top before rolling home down to Ax Les Thermes.Unfortunately it was pretty hot and the 19km ride up whilst not terribly steep had me coughing badly and I struggled to get up to the top ,taking over 1.4ohr to get to the top.As always there was a great view especially over the East side of the switchbacks ,the steeper side. If I went over I would be struggling to get back up in the heat.So decided to just ride back as the others did the longer ride. It was still enjoyable and great to have ridden up one of the lesser yet spectacular climbs of the Pyrennes.

We rolled back down not going fast as there was a bit of gravel about accept of a new section of freshly laid road.I got passed by a young cyclist about 5km down and about 4 km from the bottom he had crashed.Not sure how .Cars stopped and the ambulance was called . Fortunately there were 2 French speaking drivers who comforted him.We did not dare move him . The ambulance took quite a while to get there and we started down the col as everything was under control. Shows the danger of just a slight error when coming down such climbs.






Picture of the eastern side from the top
lots of horses about

Day 10 Col Du Tourmalet

At the top of col du Tourmalet
On the way up
Getting above the Clouds
View from the top


Today was the premier ride of the Cycling Tour of the Pyrennes. The climb up Col Du Tourmalet one of the legendary rides in the Pyrennes .


There was a group heading to the other side of Tourmalet a casual 60km ride before the ascent but my lack of speed meant I would get dropped and then get lost so I opted for the ride straight up.Leftat 945am after I checked out the bike shop thinking I may rent a Pinarello with Di2 gearing and a 34 cassette which would help but in the end after hanging around trying to decide whether to ride a rental I opted for my bike despite the weight and the cassette. So I started a little late. .

It was not the hardest ride and started with a gentle climb and a few spikes before heading into the cloud cover some 10 kms up. then after clearing the clouds it starts to get steeper and the last 4kms were particularly hard with the last 500m kicking up to 13%.After the standard pictures at the top we did a quick cycle down the other side whilst waiting for the rest . But at about 2.5km the riders were coming up from the other side and so I got to turn backand ride back to the top where we took the group pictures .then after drinks we rode down . did not get faster than 64kph as I was still worred about the loose gravel and lots of cars coming up.it was pretty crowded at the top..

The ride down was great but for the sheep and cars .Great weather and a good ride be it Iam slow with the lack of fitness and weight but the legs are feeling better and stronger. Another ride to record in the list of great mountain rides of France and Europe.

The commentrary below is from Wikipedia:

Meaning of "Tourmalet''

Some Frenchmen believe that Tourmalet translates into "bad trip" or "bad detour" because in French Tour translates into "trip" and mal translates into "bad"; however, the correct language to translate from is Gascon, not French, because of the mountain's location in the Gascony-region and the "du" in the name, which is the Gascon pendant to the French "de". Then Tour becomes "distance", which is spelled "tur" but pronounced "tour", mal is translated into "mountain", and et becomes "the". The translation from Gascon to English then becomes "The Distance Mountain".[6]
Details of the climb

[
edit]

One of the mountain pass cycling milestones along the ascent from Sainte-Marie-de-Campan
The western side, from Luz-Saint-Sauveur, is 19.0 km (11.8 mi) long, climbing 1,404 m (4,606 ft) at an average of 7.4% with a maximum of 10.2% near the summit.[7] Starting from Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, the eastern climb is 17.2 km (10.7 mi), gaining 1,268 m (4,160 ft), at an average of 7.4% with a maximum of 12%.[8] As with most French climbs, each kilometre mountain pass cycling milestones indicate the height of the summit, the distance to the summit, and the average gradient of the next kilometre.
From the pass, a rough track leads to the Pic du Midi de Bigorre observatory. Up to the Col de Laquets (elevation 2,637 m (8,652 ft)) this track is a dirt and gravel road. The part between the Col de Laquets and the observatory is a steep and narrow hiking track.[9] Some terraces of the observatory can be entered for free from the end of the track. Paying an entrance fee, one can enter the actual observatory and also take the funicular down to La Mongie.
Tour de France
[edit]

Jacques Goddet memorial at the top of the Tourmalet
The Col du Tourmalet is one of the most famous climbs on the Tour de France. It has been included more than any other pass, starting in 1910, when the Pyrenees were introduced. The first rider over was Octave Lapize, who went on to claim the yellow jersey in Paris. In 1913, Eugène Christophe broke his fork on the Tourmalet and repaired it himself at a forge in Sainte-Marie-de-Campan.
Up to 2014, the Tour has visited the Col du Tourmalet a total of 83 times, including the uncategorised passage en route to Peyragudes on Stage 17 of the 2012 tour. The total includes two stage finishes at the summit and three at La Mongie. Since 1980 it has been ranked hors catégorie, or exceptional. The Vuelta a España has also crossed the pass several times.
The 2010 edition of the Tour included the pass on two consecutive stages, crossing westward on the 16th stage to Pau and eastward on the 17th stage with a finish at the summit.
At the col is a memorial to Jacques Goddet, director of the Tour de France from 1936 to 1987, and a large statue of Octave Lapize gasping for air as he struggles to make the climb.
The Souvenir Jacques Goddet prize is awarded for the first rider to cross the Col du Tourmalet summit.
Origins in the Tour
[edit]
The Pyrenees were included in the Tour de France at the insistence of Alphonse Steinès, a colleague of the organiser, Henri Desgrange. He told the story in a book published soon after the event.[10]
Steinès first agreed that the Tour would pay 2,000 francs to clear the Col d'Aubisque, then came back to investigate the Tourmalet. He started at Sainte-Marie-de-Campan with sausage, ham and cheese at the inn opposite the church and arranged to hire a driver called Dupont from Bagnères-de-Bigorre. Dupont and Steinès made it the first 16 km, after which their car came to a stop. Dupont and Steinès started to walk but Dupont turned back after 600m, shouting: "The bears come over from Spain when it snows". Steinès set off. He mistook voices in the darkness for thieves. They were youngsters guarding sheep with their dog. Steinès called to one.
"Son, do you know the Tourmalet well? Could you guide me? I'll give you a gold coin. When we get to the other top, I'll give you another one"
The boy joined him but then turned back.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Day 9 Ride to Lux Ardiden

the top of the climb with the clouds below
At he top of Lux Ardiden
Todays short climb was a 15 km ascent of the Lux Ardiden which was just at the doorstep of our village and hotel.We left a little later than usual with the climb starting at 1.5km into the ride, a straight 14 km climb with a few steep bits and just a long slow climb for me.There was a bit f low clouds and fogs but after the 8km mark we broke through the clouds and that made for a pretty scenic climb with the switchbacks and clouds below as I climbed towards the top.Took me over 1.5 hours so was a little slow going and my garmin died onthe way up. After the pictures we all decended in to the fog which meant a slower downhill for me .Made it back to the hotel by 11.45..Just 30km of riding today.Then it was off to lourdes in the afternoon.



Monday, July 31, 2017

Day 8 Pyrennes Tour 2017

at the start on ride to Garvanie
Riding in the valley to Garvanie
The switchbacks on the climb up Col de tentes
The ragged cliffs of Col De tentes
At the top of  Col de Tentes at 2115 m after a 30 km ride





Another day of riding. the weather looked overcast in the morning and there might be rain.Fortunately we started out with the weather being good and today we were riding to the Uneco listed village of Garvanie and the climb was to the top of Col De Tentes at 2215m , the highest climb we will be doing on the trip. Despite the gentle climb for the first 20km to the village of Garvanie , the climb to Col de tentes turned out to be pretty tough with the last 10km averaging 6.5% and a few 10 and 9.5% climbs with wind.I was really slow taking 1.45 to climb the mountain and the legs were pretty much done.



The last 5km were pretty relentless not for the gradient but the winds and the constant grinding n the dead roads.

Happy to have made it to the top especially with a 20km gentle climb of 4.5% and then the 10km to the top .More French Alp in views with start cliff face rock and we were right on the border with Spain today .

After the pcture taking at the top it was a 10km descent to the town of Garvanie for lunch with the group and then a quick toru of the village and the gentle downhll ride back to the hotel..our biggest climb with 2115 m and 62km with 30 climbing today.

Day 6 & 7 Pyrennes Tour 2017



The Climb up Hautacam




Today we moved to a new town . Drove over the tourmalet on 28 july 2017 to get to Hotel Montagu at Luz Saint Saveur , a beautiful town at the base of the great Tourmalet a climb in TDF folklore at 2115m.

There was a short ride up to the Superbagneres in the morning but I had a rest day as the legs were pretty dead after the 3 rides .Instead it was a lesuirely morning breakfast then packing the bikes and cars and after lunch at Luchon we drove the 145km to the new base for the next 5 nights.

we had a stop on Tourmalt and took some pictures .The climb does look hard with a few really steep climbs.

After dinner at the hotel and an early nights sleep , it was back riding the next day , Saturdat 29 July.Today we were riding up the hautacam,another TDF climb .It is only 1615 m but like all the climbs I haven't been able to say any were easy.

We started out at 8.30 with an easy downhill ride to the base of the hautacam which was a 20km ride from our hotel and then we just started the 16 km climb up to the top ( see the climbing cyclist website for the statistics )

At the top after pictures we made our way down with some french riders . I kept the speed of the descent under check as there was a fair bit of traffic and one of the french riders ended up in a ditch as he crashed but was fortunate in not being injured.

I followed their line for the most part till the crash.I managed to get a max speed of 70.8kph..We had lunch in the town at the base before cycling the 20km back to our hotel.Managed 68km and 4.5 hpurs on the saddle. Legs were a little tired.

The rest of the day was just relaxing and laundry and having a nap. The legs needed the rest. Tomorrow another climb .



Friday, July 28, 2017

Day 5 Pyrennes Cycling Tour

Ride to Port de Bales

The legs were tired but the mountains call. We started in 2 groups with the slower riders staring at 9am heading to the start of a 19km climb up Port de Bales at 1790m . It was a lesuirely ride slightly downhill to the start which featured in this years TDF . At the start it was a 19km ride up and with an average gradient of 7%. .It took me 2.5 hours of climbing . it was hard going especially from the 9km mark as the gradient really startd to spike and a few switchbacks to recover ...just grinding to the top.

It was an absolute relief to get to the top.I had a few breaks on the climb just to give the legs a rest. There was the usual spectacular scenery of green lush trees and brooks at the base of the climb before the scenes of the valley below open up as you get higher with cows and goats on the mountain side and road wander around. lots of cowpats to avoid and 6km from the end there was a herd of cows to dodge.

From the top , with no cafe we had our own picnic with baguttes and cheese and ham.Then it was aquick descent down and back to Luchon for a deserved rest . we did take the cable car /gondolier up to the top for coffee and the spectacula view of the town of Luchon and the surrounding mountains.


Pyrennes Cycling tour 2017 Col De Peyresourde






Today was a short climb up to Col De Peyresourde .There was a mch longer ride over to the other side of 65 and 92 km but by the time I got to the top I knew my legs were just too tired to go further. i took the easy option anddecided I will just have a break .

It was not as tough as yesterday but still any climb was hard with tired legs and the lack of any training in the elad upmade it harder . The ride was pleasant and the scenery pretty like any of the climbs in the Pyrennes.

just glad it was a short 28km. At the top we had a break with crepes and then a fast decent straight into town Got up to 65kph but did not dare go any faster . Found the legs and body sluggish and tired today .

This is a good link to describe the Col de Peyresourde

Tomorrow (28Jul) a short ride but have decded to have a non- ride day.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cyling Tour of Pyrennes Day 4


The Climbs to Col de Mente , Col de Buret and Col des Ares

St Beat Start of the ride to Col De Mente
Group Picture before the start
start of climb up Col du Ares
Memorial to Fabio Carsatelli who was killed at this section on the TDF in 1995
On the way up Col de Mente

Today was the start of what we were here for .....cycling the Pyrennes.

The weather Gods were kind to us and the weather has been good and warm and no rain.
from Luchon we drove to St Beat a small village 16kms away and started with a relatively easy climb from the village to Col de Ares a climb of about 350 metres and 7.5km from the start of the climb and about 8km from the village we rode from.

Whilstan easy climb I was still grinding away but not straining just not quick. We were with other cylict and a group from Melbourne , Croydon cycles. So 2 Australian groups were rifding the 3 Cols today.

We started off at about 9.30 and got to the top by 10am or just past .waitied for everyone to regroup and then headed for Col de Buret with a fast descent and then a brief climb to the Col which was a mere 797 m I believe and then another descent to the start of a short climb to the memorial to Fabio_Casartelli .


we then rode up to Col de Mente our final climb for the day .Took mde 1.20 hr to get to the top and I was feeling it in the end.Was relieved to have got to the top .had lunch and a much needed coke before we decended back to St Beat .A round distance of 55km.

Glad the first ride was over and spent the afternoon at the Luchon Thermal baths which was really just a large swim pool with jets and a sauna .Although Luchon have had mineral baths from 62 BC they don't seem to ahve themanymore just nornal water baths.

The end of a memorable day in the Pyrennes.

Barcelona and Pyrennes cycling Tour 2017

Walking back after run /swim Sunday Morning 23 Juky 2017
Barcelona Beach 2017
Cable Car ride above Barcelona to Mount Montjuic

A happy Spanish Goldie on my run on Monday Morning 24 July 2017

Our Bags are packed outside Hotel Gaudi Barcelona heading to Pyrennes (Luchon)

A welcome from a Goldie at Luchon

.After the UTA race was a long period of recovery and vegetating but slowly getting back into some activity.

Defiitely needed the down time to avoid fatigue and any overuse injuries.I did get some hotspots in the foot which were crippling for a feww weeks and I could not do any running . I started back cycling on Saturday's with CRT and some with trainer workouts but nothing heavy.I have no definite races and just enjoying riding for what it is.

That said I had planned a year earklier to join the cycling group heading to the Pyrennes in July organised by Kim and Robyn.Had fun in 2015 and it is a great challenge to be able to ride up these hills /mountains.

We all arrived at Barcelona, some earlier others like me on 22 July 2017 with 2 days in Barcelona before heading to Luchon our first base for 4 nights climbing the various Cols staring on 25 July 2017.

barcelona was great fun.I was last here in 2011 after Lazarote with Enrico . I enjoyed walking around the old Gothis quater and the Maritime museum.

On Sunday a group of us ran to the beach and swam and then walked backed. Lovely morning which was followed with a wander round Barcelona , up to the top of Mount Montjuic and then an afternoon run around Barcelona and the gothic Quater .I ran about 5 in the orning and then 8 in the evening with a bit of walking between .On Monday did a morning run of 6 km before packing up for the 4.5 hour ride to  Luchon . We then settled in with our first dinner at Luchon in a beautiful restaurant with duck for dinner and a four course meal . Tomorrow the first ride in a beautiful part of France.