The first day of 'Operation: Pyrenean beasting' begins in a hell of a more civil fashion than the last operation, thankfully! Breakfast at 0745? Marvellous, isn't it?
|No more of this cardboard-dried fruit garbage either. Result!|
It was a surprisingly robust start from our hotel in Argeles-Gazost but I amazed myself by climbing relatively ok, and we reached the first target (Col du Soulor) without too many profanities uttered.
|Corn? Maize? Mountain!|
|Just for proof, you understand. Car parked just out of shot...|
|Amazing views on the way to the Col d'Aubisque. Don't look down!|
|Every view is bought and paid for!|
|Laurel & Hardy pushing a piano?|
|The only things adhering to the 25km/h speed limit are the motor and le sheep.|
We had a lunch break back in A-G and then set about giving The Hautacam a shoeing. Yeah, right! In temperatures of up to 38c. With ever-changing gradients of between 5% and 13%. I was giddy (read 'stupid') enough to showboat a little and got my arse duly kicked by the mountain: it was bloody awful to be fair, hah-hah!
|Plenty pleased to see this banner.|
|Pretty nice neck of the woods. Just a tad difficult to climb you understand!|
The hotel dinner was fine, as per, and The Tractor's Del-Boy Franglais ensured us an extra helping of pasta.
Day 1 Pryenean stats!
Tuesday 28th August: Day two of the Pyrenean beasting!
There was a big old thunderstorm overnight but by the time we were loaded-up and on the road at 0900 it was regulation blue skies. Fantastic!
Look at the extraordinary footage below...if you can see beyond the massaged words:
2003 was also the first year that I went to see the finale of the TdF on the Champs Elysee- as Ray Wilkins would have it, "My word, my word...what a spectacle for the young man." Lance won of course, and I cheered accordingly and felt priviliged in seeing a true sporting champion at the top of this game.
What I still vividly remember is the crowd giving Lance respect and applause of course but this was dwarfed by the acclaim, well-wishing and love for his beaten rival, Jan Ullrich, who did seem to be a much more personable guy all round. The difference in the half-million strong crowd's reaction was like night and day.
What linked these two rivals? Well, Ullrich has admitted doping and now Lance has refused to defend doping charges brought by the U.S.A.D.A. with the result that he has been stripped of all of his seven TdeF titles. Join the dots yourselves.
A lot of people had suspected for a long time that Lance had used banned products or practices to maintain or gain an advantage over his rivals and now it seems the game is up. I only wish that he and his partner-in-crime, Johann Bruyneel, would come clean and say what they did. No harm in being an optimist, right?
So why have I wasted both your's and my time mentioning this? Well, because my climb up to Luz Ardiden mattered to me because in some ridiculously small way it somehow reclaimed a llittle piece of the sport. Believe me when I say I gave it everything: nobody passed me and even Andy was about a km behind by the summit. This probably sounds (or reads) a little childish perhaps but it meant something to me. Awww, say it ain't so, Lance? Right we'll move on before I disappear up my own tail-pipe...
|Luz Ardiden dealt with. Let's go!|
And below shows the beginning of the run back down...joy!
|Alright, alright...we all know you've got previous.|
|A great cyclist: RIP Monsieur Fignon.|
|I was already praying.|
|Tribute to my old mate, Jens.|
|Alright, we'll call it a draw! Dunno who the wee scrote on the lhs is though.|
|Check your brakes first.|
|Yours for 520 Yo-Yos. Done!|
|Managed to talk Shawn down: I was afraid he might've been a wooly jumper.|
|"The House Of Pain" vs "The Suitcase Of Courage"|
Day 2 Pyrenean stats!