54km of 1966km so far…
Another day, another col!
As the weather forecast wasn’t good for the afternoon, I woke up early and I was on the road by 9. Philip and Julia were going to the same col with me, but we departed separately as it is easier to go up on your own tempo.
Today’s col was Tourmalet at 2115 meters over an 18km ride. When I saw the first sign, I hadn’t even done 3km from the campsite, which means my legs were not warm enough. Today it was a lot colder and even at the base the temperature was around 11c and extremely humid. A few kilometers later and I could see my breath and my back steaming.
The scenery was once again breathtaking. There wasn’t much forest this time, but loads of grass and a lot of running water. The area was populated with cows, sheep, horses as well as eagles flying above the valley.
Once again, I saw many cyclists on the way and I ended up doing the last 5 kilometers of the climb along with two Spanish women. Their mothers were escorting them with a car to film their attempt and support them. They later told me it was their third time on this col and this time they were doing the entire Pyrenees from coast to coast in ten days!
The temperature droped to 5 degrees, my camera and speedometer were complaining for low battery because of the low temperature and I had to stop and put my jacket for the last few kilometers. This time the road was next to steaper cliffs without any barriers, so a few times I cycled on the opposite direction to avoid an accidental jump to the void.
I made it to the top and some other cyclists congratulated me. Everyone up there was treated as a winner. I took my photos, took more clothes and jumped into the refuge restaurant for warmth and food. Once again it was full of cyclists. I talked to one of them and I found out they were a groupf of six friends cycling the entire Pyrenees in 7 days, raising money for cancer research, as the leader had recently lost his father.
This time the descent was even harder. With a pair gloves under my mitts and plastic gloves underneath, my fingers were still frozen and barely able to press the breaks. I stopped to the first ski resort to use the toilet’s hand dryer to warm my self up before I continue with the descent. I wonder how most of the cyclists that make it up there, wear such a minimal clothing and most of them would go for a second col right after.
At the village Campan I saw this very interesting custom. Every single house and store had one or several dolls in various poses. I found it very interesting and funny.
When I got to the village of Saint Marie de Campan, I had the choice of going south west to the col d’Aspin. But I think I took my little taste of climbing mountains and it was time to head to warmer grounds. I was about to go to Tarbes, but the tourist office told me there aren’t any campsites, so I stayed at Bagneres de Bigorre for the night.