We got up fairly early by holiday standards, and started to get ready for a ride. The classic Tour finish of the Hautacam! The route which would take us from Bareges (1250m) down through Luz St Sauveur (696m) and the long gorge descent down to the foot of Hautacam (453m) and then up to Hautacam (1520m) and still up to the Col de Tramassel (1635m) and then up to the cafe at the top (even higher up!!). We’d then do it all in reverse to turn it into a 55mile ride and 1864 metres of climbing in 5 hours and 30min.
As we were coming down the gorge we saw a cyclosportive of some sort coming up the gorge, around 100 people with a few support motorcycles and a broom wagon and 2 miles of queueing cars behind. The broom wagon was marked “UV Lourdes” – must look that up when we’re home.
Some of the riders didn’t half look knackered…
Starting at the bottom of Hautacam you can’t see the top or anything that looks like it is supposed to be a heck of a climb, other than the signs saying “Hautacam 1520m, 13km, 8%” (over the next one km). What makes this a real bugger is that one minute it is a steady 8% climb, the next it is flat with a sharp turn, then it becomes a 5% climb followed by a downhill, then a 16% climb up to a sharp hairpin and then a flat, downhill with a climb that goes up with a twist. You just never know what is coming next, which kinda makes it a fun bastard of a hill to cycle. Though how the Tour riders even begin to race up there beats us, as we ground up in our grannies.
We got to the lovely top to see the beautiful carpark, which just makes Hautacam such a great place to be … Peli told me that on top of Col de Tramassel there would be a cafe, and with us both dying for something to eat and a rest, off we went only to arrive at an other carpark to find nothing!!! I spotted a roof a bit further up the hill, hill since it is below 2000 metres high :) We arrived to YET an other carpark and a cafe. After a quick look at the menu we were desperate for the omelette et frites, only to be told “plus a manger” :(
We found a quiet spot out of the wind and ate our sweaty butties. By god, we were hungry.
Both of us almost bonked on the climb, but we weren’t quite aware just how low on food we were. Climbing Hautacam on one pain au chocolat and a small energy bar is no mean feat!
For some reason or another every climb we have done down here is some where between 13km and 18km long. And with reading the book “Cols of the Pyrenees” all the others are pretty much the same length. It’s like the road builders have been told to make each road up each hill the same length no mather how high it is. The main proof of this, is on Hautacam when there was only 500 metres to the top there was still 6km to ride!
After listening to a large, chattering Spanish family welcome the cycling member of their party (loudly) we headed down hill and found a little village with beautiful fountain where we duly filled up our water bottles.
We arrived at the bottom to find a little cafe, and again we were told that there was no food, but we fueled up on ice cream. And set off home up via the gorge and the Tourmalet.
25 miles uphill with it getting steeper and steeper the closer we got to home. Phew!
We where utterly knackered when we hit Tourmalet but we maded it with just about enough fuel in us and time to shower and run down to Les Sorbiers to eat, and boy were we hungry.
The chocolate fudge pudding with ice cream was just what we needed to have after that long
I was reading in Cycling Plus that on a hot, hard ride in the mountains a rider burns up to 1000 calories an hour. So on today’s ride we easily burned 5000 calories and we didn’t consume anywhere near that, because of not having enough food with us, cafes being closed and being out of Torq Energy mix. It’s only when you stop drinking the Torq I noticed how good it is.