Yawn, it started early. Well, we had to get up before Peli’s mum and go for the fresh pain, croissants, tarte aux myrtilles and newspapers. She had been doing that for last nearly 2 weeks and it was her birthday after all. Wink
So, after breakfast in bed for Peli’s mum we went to the local Bareges mecredi market, to stock up on miel (from the Ruchers du Tourmalet – yummy) and saucissons (au fromage brebis). And then we took “Basil” the Edinburgh Bicycles folder and mum over to the bouleodrome for a bit of cycle training, as that was my gift to her. She had a great time and got more confident with her road positioning and emergency stops. Smiley
The weather forecast the previous night had predicted a grey start to the day to then become rain in the afternoon… so of course the cycle training and the trip to the market was done in glorious sunshine. And after a lavish lunch Peli talked me into attacking the top 11km of the Tourmalet again for the last time of this holiday.
We set off in sunshine with four tired legs but after a few kms they figured out that we were going up again, and so we plodded up and onwards. I stuck to my little rule of thumb; a quick stop for a rest, snack and drink every 2km, whereas Peli was determined and cycled on with only one stop to put on her “arms” (Terry Bolero) when we got into the freezing cold, wet mist at 3km to go.
I stopped at 500 metres to go to take this photo of Peli riding up in the cloud. It was a it mad to ride in this visibility but we just had to get to the top one more time. We beat our previous time for the ascent, too, by five minutes! 7’ish miles in 1 hour 22 minutes.
After a quick photo shoot at the top amongst some mad Catalans who made us laugh for the camera by bellowing “Hahaha!!” when about to hit the shutter, we started our descent. The air was very cold, and Peli starting singing her own version of ‘Ten Green Bottles” – “Ten Freezing Fingers” at high volume, much to the amusement of other riders coming up. Around 4km down (and Peli with “Two Freezing Fingers” to go) I hit a stone quite hard and around 200 metres later the lack of control told me that I had another visit from the unmentionables.
We pulled over to sort this out. Peli was freezing like a freezing thing though I was just fine. Back wheel off, sat down, started to apply patch to only find that I’d got a snake bite.
While we were faffing about, Peli read the label on the glue stated “do not inhale” and we were joking that we were high on altitude and high on glue (as you do). While pissing ourselves laughing (plus at other rude jokes we couldn’t repeat on these pages), this other cyclist came by inquiring about the puncture “C’est OK? Tout va bien?” and I looked up and just laughed even more. I wonder what this poor cyclist was thinking about these two mad giggling cyclists sitting in freezing fog at 1830 metres Smiley
We had to call into HQ for help as I did not have a spare inner tube and the glue wouldn’t stick. Remember, I used my spare a few days ago and Peli was a cold thing. A quick call to mountain rescue, aka Peli’s dad, and he was on his way. He’d actually done the Tourmalet a few hours before us, and had missed the worst of the fog.
I sent Peli down the hill on Felix so that she could get home quick and warm up. I then walked down to a suitable place for Daddy to pick me up. En route I saw another cyclist doing his damndest to inflate his tyre.
While awaiting rescue I had folded up Chutney and every car that came past had to slow down to see and figure out what the heck was standing there next to me. Wheels? Check (albeit small). Fella looking a bit like a cyclist and alive and kicking? Check. But how the heck did the bike become that shape and get up there in the first place?
While waiting I saw the victim of the second fairy attack set off up the hill safe and sound.
9.5 miles for me and nearly 14 miles for Peli.