Four mountains, Five climbs and a dabble in France – but don’t be fooled…..

Stage 15

Today was as bad as that awful day in Italy – 12.5 hours on the road and 10.45 hours in the saddle.
This morning I got up well before te Cyclist as I needed to wash and sterilise the bottles, shower (usually done at night) and the other usual things (flask of tea and coffee, water for bottles, fill 5Ltr bottle, sort undried kit, do his breakfast, wash up, pack car, check out, pack fridge, etc etc). But today I had to sterilise the bottles before anything else as I was too tired to do it last night after such a big dinner and they need to soak for half an hour.
ThenCyclist set off before me as I needed to checkout, and to get Fuel. Also if the supermarket was open I would do a flying visit. It wasn’t so when I got fuel I got a baguette, laughing cow and ham for sandwiches. This Esso station has  got cleanest pumps ever. I had no breakfast of my usual Madeleine sponge as I’m still full from dinner.
I caught The Cyclist up the first climb. i really thought he would have got further. along the way we saw yellow arrows and I thought the TDF people were here! The Cyclist pointed out that the flags were for Haute Route which is a big event. He was concerned that they would be doing all our route today and that we would get caught up in it. I text the Sports Therapist and The Physiologist hoping that one of them would give us the information. They both found out info’ and we were relieved to know they were a day behind and in fact were taking 3 days to do what we were doing today.
When the cyclist gave me his arm and leg warmers at the bottom of the climb a Dead fly with tiny maggots crawling all in and over it fell out on my lap! Argh! I couldn’t get the car for open fast enough.
Todays road was a Lotus race track. There must be a rally. Angel-One would be in her element. She always said he wanted one, but i guess that ay nit happen for a ehile now as it is a tad impractical with  bambino in tow. Mrs Chimney been in to hospital today and all went well and sent home.
Today The Cyclist doesn’t feel too good. He is riding slowly instead of his usual pace and its all an effort and he isn’t all smiley and singing to himself as he usually does. There may be smiles for the camera but that’s the professional coming out in him. It’s already 1.50pm and were are just starting the second climb with 132Km to go that include two more French Mountains that the Vuelta class as category 1 but I’m sure Le Tour has them as HC climbs. As were are going through our hotel town before the next two mountains The Cyclist has told me to check in as it will be a late finish for cycling and includes us getting back in the car to the trace our steps over the mountains. Oh joy! And tomorrow there is a two hour drive to the start too!
On Le col de Bal we didn’t start to climb until 5.30pm and didn’t get to the top until after 7pm. The clouds had closed in and they were grey and threatening to rain. We still have to get down then up another big climb over the top, then down fr a bit before climbing up gain to today’s finish. As it stands before we have done the final climb at snails pace, my Garmin gives the eta at the hotel as 10.30pm tonight. My eyes are stinging from tiredness. Neither of us has slept well for days and although I know the Cyclist is dragging his pedals it takes it out of me too concentrating and done times navigating. This is be ause he turns his Garmin off to save energy. The cyclist has said he will finish in the dark using my lights if we have to. Sigh…….
My poor poor Cyclist. I know he is trying as hard as he can to climb this penultimate climb as fast as he can but its lime he is dragging something. He battled a headwind for the first 100 mi,es of today, both uphill and down. It absolutely drains him. He had to pedal downhill to get moving and he was out of his saddle fighting against it up the first two climbs. This is why, he tells me, we have a two hour transfer in the morning rather than three hours tonight, as we would both be tired. I wonder if he will let me drive to the hotel. Highly unlikely. Definitely no if I tell him I was really tired on the previous climb, so I won’t tell him and offer anyway.
It will be too dark for photos before long. And as I write the theme from Rocky comes on. Im going to pull off now to catch him up and p,ay it yo him o see kit it spurs him on. I will probably get short shrift but hey you’ve it to try. As I expected he was not impressed. I told him that I had heard the music come on and wanted to spur him on. Nothing! Just steely focus forwards. About a Km further along I asked if there was anything I could do? Drink? Energy gel? Etc? No response just a concentrated forward glare. So I asked if I should me ave him alone. Well! That got a response. I think every face muscle titled as his reedy looked to the sky as if saying “Now she gets it!” So I left him and found a photo spot to take a picture without saying a word.
The dusk is enveloping us and the ipad can’t seem to take clear photos. At the top of the Peresaude the The Cyclist makes the shape of a gun to his head with his hand. I don’t know about him.
It is nearly 9pm and it will be completely dark very very soon. Any cars daft enough to be up here have their lights on as do I. I ask the Cyclist to put a jacket on as the temperature is dropping and it will be cold on the way down. He said the yellow one which I was grateful for so I could see him and so can any one else. The start of the next climb is only a few Km down the other side so it wasn’t long before we start the slow and painful to watch ascent of Pereguades. I put The Beatles track “Here comes the Sun” loud as it is a one the Cyclist chose for the French Tour (as we are we are in France) and I video him giving it all he can to finish today. He has felt ill all day and I know he is out of energy as he has only had his breakfast and one sandwich plus a few cakes and gels. Not enough.
We reach the edge of the ski town and he stops and makes a cutting motion I. Front of me. Enough. Now to get the bike on, go back down, up and over the Peresaude down to Luchon then up and over another down into Spain and on to the hotel. All in the pitch black un lit roads. The Cyclist wouldn’t let me drive and I k ow he shouldn’t really either as he is wiped. I hold Co-Pilot in my hand and tell him when hairpins are coming up and which way the road is bending as you can’t see much at all. Oops, there’s a cow. Missed it. It was after 10pm and the cyclist just lay on the bed, cranky and witching for sleep. He wouldn’t eat he just felt empty. I eventually persuaded him to have half a sleeping pill as his legs hurt so much he couldn’t sleep.
I’m just worried how we are going to do tomorrow. A 2hr drive to the start and he has no fuel. His cheeks have sunken. It’s amazing what can happen in a day!
150 miles, 5000 metres of climbing, into a strong head wind and done solo. The Cyclist said Everest is only 8000 meters. I watched it unravel. I don’t know if you can imagine what it took to do it?
you can watch the first part of the final climb in the dark on the videos on my home page. It is called “150 miles since leaving Andorra”
Soundbites:
Cloud busting – Kate Bush ( very apt!)
No Apagues la Luz – Enrique Iglesias ( don’t turn off the lights sung in Spanish)
Spanish Stroll – Mink DeVille
Going up the country – Canned Heat

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