The Tour de Force

The Tour de Force

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Back On The Chain Gang! Stage 10: Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin...Tuesday 7th July 2015

I'll tell you what, these rest days pass in a flash...all too soon we're up and at it again!

Top tune.
Today's mission!
For no good reason I was able to throw a little effort into helping to drive the first bunch along today: of course there were a few other eejits willing to take a turn too and it really was a laugh to be blasting through the countryside and eating-up the miles. Not sure why we were giving it large, especially after yesterday's er, refuelling tactics but it did give me a chuckle at the first feed-stop when Chris said he was gonna contact WADA and see about getting us tested, hah-hah! To be fair, Andy did the biggest turn of the whole tour that morning: he also did the second and probably third too, but don't tell him, alright? Even the elite guys were impressed/pleased at being able to get their cigars'n'brandy least until we started going up!
Applying beans early-doors. Was a bit frantic at times!
The terrain was rolling with the odd climb thrown in: this splintered things as expected but Andy and Chris would wait for me to get back on and then we'd be drilling it along again. That was the methodology for a lot of the day and it worked fine.

The French and their roundabouts. 'Nuff said!
This lad can do it all: road, track...slowly. During the lunch-break.
First sunflower shot of the trip. Approx 900 more to follow, I would've guessed.
No idea where but we weren't hanging around anyway...

Nice to see you, to see you...nice capture of nonsense by Paul Davy, who shot us for a few days.
The real action today was to be almost at the 100 mile point: a climb to the stage finish up Pierre Saint Martin...12 miles at gradients of up to 11%. This was the first proper climb that I had done since the Mont Vontoux madness of 2014! Just to make things more difficult, I left my two water bottles at the last feed-stop but being the half-decent sort wot he is, Andy gave me one of his. Cheers mate, much appreciated. And necessary!

Tons of wildlife in The Pyrenees.
Perhaps you do have Right Of Way then...
I didn't particularly enjoy the first half of it- the highlight was seeing horses and cows lazily roaming I think! Eventually I made it to the summit and saw sunlight for the first time today: Andy and Chris were waiting there...they are way ahead of me in capability. Gits.
At about 500 yards from the finish, the sun eventually broke through...yes!
We descended back into the clag and the free-range wildlife and re-grouped with a ton of other riders. We then caught a coach for the 80 minute transfer to tonight's accommodation. This again mirrors exactly the nause that the pros will suffer...great food tonight though and eventually we had wiffy that worked. Bon! Gotta sleep now because tomorrow is massive...cheers!
This photo contains one proper cyclist. Joking, Gents...hah-hah!

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Monday, Monday...Rest day in Tarbes...Monday 6th July 2015

Sheer genius from Eric!

Today was a rest day, thankfully but it wasn't a day-off by any stretch. Clothes and bikes to wash, and we were also advised to go for a short-ish bike ride just to remind our legs that they were still required for a little time yet!
Guess who the tidy one is? 
Stergene rules.
Bike was in toxic shock at having been cleaned.
Other errands included breaking the so-called 'Velominati Rules' by Andy electing to shop at Decathlon for a new saddle bag, and then finding a terrific cafe in Tarbes Square that served us steak & chips. Just what was required!

What a load of bo**ocks, mostly!
We needed photographic evidence that Decathlon had been involved, hah-hah!
Holocaust memorial in Tarbes.
Not sure if you can see them, but Le French equivalent of The Red Devils were practicing for Bastille Day, possibly?
After lunch, myself, Andy and a couple of the other guys found a bar in town that was showing live de Le Tour, and found ourselves bellowing at the screen to will Chris Froome up that Mur de Huy climb that we made a meal of only 7 days previously!

The horrible stuff begins: we start at the LHS and work our across. Very slowly indeed!
Doubt I'll be troubling the King Of The Mountains classification anytime soon!
All-in-all a fairly productive day and a necessary one after the mileage covered already. Keep your fingers crossed for me as the bad stuff approaches...

I do have a bit of previous...

2014: 1000 miles solo & unsupported out to France, then La Bicinglette...6 x Mont Ventoux in a day!

2013: 1000 miles solo & unsupported out to Austria, then the worst climbs in The Dolomites!

2012: The inaugural Haute Route sportive from Geneva to Nice, followed by the worst Pyrenean climbs!

2011: 3500 miles across North America...coast to coast!

2010: 1600 miles from Gibraltar to Blackpool!

2009: 1000 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats!

2008: 250 miles from Blackpool to London!

2007: 100 miles around Manchester!

2006: 0.5 mile to corner shop!