For Australian Cyclists travelling and touring OS
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I've finally gotten around to posting a few pics of my time in the Pyrenees (July 29-Aug 2). It's really hard to describe how it was without ranting on for ages. I think it is equally hard for the pictures to do the actual landscape justice. I had my camera bag around my neck/shoulder and as I rode I would take photo's. I seriously could have taken millions. I now wish I had of bought some kind of helmet vid camera.
The best experience of my time there was climbing the Tourmalet for sure. I did it on my last day, and by this time I was riding the strongest I think I ever have. I rolled off and headed to Ste Marie de Campan where the climb starts. The 35km to get there were all gradually, and sometimes not so gradually uphill! I was climbing to a climb! My stomach was turning a little bit as I rolled up to the big sign. 'Col du Tourmalet OUVERT'. It took me an hour and a half to get to the top, which is about 11km/hr. Not really tearing it up, but it was probably 10 or 15 mins faster than I was expecting. After the first few easy km's it was all over 8% for the next 13 or 14kms. Up near La Mongie as I dodged Cows on the road, the Garmin was telling me 11% for a pretty serious stretch. Then you get to La Mongie and it flattens for a moment, then it's all 9ish% to the top. A superb feeling to get there.
Descending was unbelievable. After a few twists and turns at the top it transforms into long, sweeping corners which just invite you to carry your speed through. What a thrill. I zoomed back to base. A 110km ride including the mighty Tourmalet.
The hardest moments of my time there were on the Col d'Aspin. It's 12kms of climbing from a town called Arreau, and the first serious climb I did. I had to go over 2 smaller col's (say about 5-6kms at 5-6%) on the 70km trip just to get me to the start of the Aspin. This one started pretty easy too, but about halfway up there's a km of 9.5% average and that just blew me to pieces. It was very hot and I had burnt too many matches by just getting this far. The signs for each km's can be very very depressing. After a km of 8% and the legs are on fire, to be greeted with a sign saying the next km is going to be 1.5% steeper! Ouch. I'd just arrived after a week in England indulging in family hospitality, and I was paying for it. I grinded slowly to the top and managed to smile for a photo in front of the col sign. Descended and headed back. A 135km ride including 3 cols and well over 2000m of ascending.
Also climbed a few others. Pont Despagne, Col d'Aubisque/Soulour. Would definitely like to go back to Europe to ride elsewhere but I don't know if that will be possible anytime soon. Nevertheless, I'm just glad I got the opportunity this time to go and experience it. If you get the chance to ride in any of the famous European mountains, I certainly recommend you take it.
Anyway, I am ranting. Here are some photos..
The Tourmalet begins
It was all too much for some
The summit within reach
Paint on the Tourmalet
From the top
Now for the descent
I think this was the Aspin.. not sure. Maybe Aubisque. Nah I think it's Aspin.
More Aspin I think
On top of the Aspin
Canyon Ultimate AL
Wher's the panniers?
Who's carrying all your gear?
Gotta make it real cycle touring after all
Sorry, great photos of the mountains and I'm sure it was one hell of a challenge to ride those roads. Well done and I'm envious.
Last edited by il padrone on Fri Sep 05, 2008 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mandatory helmet law?
"An unjustified and unethical imposition on a healthy activity."
Hy Lucas.. I've been to the last two TdF... and OMGosh amazing... But i've finally bought a bike and have 4 weeks to wait until it arriives from spain... Your pictures remind me of sitting on the side of the road with wine and cheese...
Well just ondering if anyone is interested in teaching a Professional Spectator, how to ride properly... I can tell you some amazing stories of who i've meet.... LOL...
Can't wait to get down there,was hoping to be in Andorra today but bit short of cash!.Horrible day here so hopefully it is nicer 500km south for the Veulta!.
Did you just hire a car while here?.
Hey toolong, no I flew into Pau and was staying at a little place outside Lourdes. It was within easy cycling distance of many of the big climbs. Each day I would just work out a route and go for it. The Garmin was handy!
As for my gearing.. I had a 50/34 compact and a 12-27 cassette on my tarmac. I could have got away with a bit less, maybe 12-25, but it would have been less enjoyable. I certainly wouldn't advise the average rider to attempt it without a compact or triple. The guy who ran the place I was staying ran a 50/34 and a 13-29
Canyon Ultimate AL
looks fantastic Lukas, i am now realistically looking to do this is 2010. The Pyrenees and maybe even Ventoux.
are there any climbs (i note you are in Hurstville) in / around Sydney that you can recommend for preparation (obviously you would need to do a lot of repeats! )
If you're willing to drive down to Macquarie Pass I would recommend it. It's just down past Wollongong at Albion Park. From the bottom to Robertson Pie shop at the top it's about 12km, but the last 3km's are more false flat than real climbing. Given that you're in Sutherland it would probably take less than an hour to drive down there.
Other than that, the RNP, but I'm sure you know about it's credentials. I don't know much about other parts of Sydney.. I believe there are some good hills up North but have never ridden up there. And then obviously out in the Blue Mountains.
Canyon Ultimate AL
Thanks Lukas, by December i hope to be able to do the Waterfall-Waterfall Weir-Garie Beach and return loop as part of my weekend Waterfall rides, some good climbs there its a start i suppose, but a long way from the Tourmalet!
Before i am ready for the RNP in addition to my Mon-Fri Turbo trainer & stair climbing i will start doing 1-2 Sutherland-Oatley Park rides early in the morning before work each week....this ride has more serious hills than my usual Kurnell or Waterfall rides.
Well, i got a call from home that my gruppo arrived from ribble today, so will be testing a 56cm on the weekend to see how it fits.......shouldnt be too long now. Meanwhile look out for a fat plonker on a Purple Merida, usually in a CSC jersey though not to be confused with Stuey O'Grady I ride Kurnell on a Sat and Waterfall on a Sun usually.
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