Stage 9 Saint-Girons to Bagnere-De-Bigoire
But the categories of the 5 mountains The Cyclist has to get over today. He had said we could have breakfast and as I had to shower today, not last night, we had a late start just after 9am. So the TdF guys are well in front however the top of the first mountain is only 28km from the start so we are up from the get go do he should catch them by the 3rd climb.
I have my little clothes bag by me on the front seat as I put on clothes ready for a cold wet day as it looked black overhead and this is the Pyrenees, but the cloud has breaks in it and the sun is trying to get through. As it s still morning it might brighten and I am going to do a swift change in the car. Maybe I could change for each mountain and see if anyone notices?
We have seen “NON OURS” painted on the road surface many times and neither I nor The Cyclist ( who understands and speaks excellent French but won’t do it while I am here, which is embarrassing as although I love the language I know he is far better than I and yet he eats me struggle), know what this demonstration of not wanting something, is. So if any of you followers know or can let me know I would be grateful.
That’s it. All change for a skirt. First two climbs were easy enough and at the top of Col De Mente the TDF helpers came over for a chat. Apparently it snowed 1 metre depth up here 4 weeks ago. We know about snow after Italy don’t we! So The Cyclist had caught the TDF people up on the top of the second climb. These were the stragglers though. There were a large number somewhere up in front. It was down from here and through short Valley then up again for the third mountain of the day. In tne valley at the bottom we went through a town that was washed away recently. The Cyclist said it was on our news but I hadn’t seen it. According to The Cyclist it took the bridges out. All the streams and rivers here are raging torrents actually. It is like Italy when no matter where you are all you an hear is gushing water.
This mountain is one I do remember well (unlike the previous one that we have been over twice before and the only thing I remember is the memorial statue to a Tour Rider who crashed and died on the same descent we were doing today). We went over this this climb, Col De Peyresourde, twice last year in both directions and The Cyclist and I did so a coup,e of times on the motorbike back in 2010 when we came to follow Le Tour in the Pyrenees. We stopped at the cafe at the top and had the 12 crépes. Ahhhhhh, good times when it was an actual holiday.
On the way up near the bottom there were a couple of TDF guys that looked as if they were really struggling. Basically today I have just tried to get photos that can compare to yesterday’s. Also n the way up Austin Reynolds went past asking if my Cyclist was ok. It wasn’t long before The Cyclist caught Austin up and I took some nice shots of them so that I can email them to Austin as he said he is going home tomorrow. The whole Tour heads North after today. All the way up near Saint Malo and Mont Saint Michelle. This is way too far for us to do tonight unless we want to arrive after midnight (I would have preferred that but the cyclist warned against tiredness so we aren’t). So we are heading towards Bordeaux tonight and having to travel the remainder tomorrow on what is supposed to be our rest day.
The fourth mountain was one that we haven’t been over before. The Cyclist hasn’t even been over it when he has been on his motorbike with The Squadron Leader and others. At the top The Cyclist took my photo as I,had asked him to do for my blog. He takes a few in succession hoping that one will be ok. He obviously gets me if I move then. One of these shots on mountain No4 was such a photo.mI was moving my arms. When I looked at them, one made me laugh. It was not the best one for a serious photo, but I have put it up,here for you to see too. I think it looks like I am about to burst into the Sound of Music soundtrack. It should have been Austria and I might have.
On the way down I was behind a TDF guy. He was going slower than me but not as slow as two French cars that had been up at the top some moments before. I followed him past the first one. This was no mean feat on this road. It was only just wide enough for two cars and there was no barrier to stop you going over the edge. I managed to get past the TdF guy and headed down to the other slow French car. I went to pass him as he was practically crawling along. It swerved out across the road so I couldn’t pass. I put this down to the driver and passengers looking about at the scenery. But the third time it happened I realised he was doing it on purpose. I was cursing blue murder at the stupidity. Flipping French pillock. Just ahead there was a pull in on the other side of the road so I went to pass, he swerved and I used the pull in. Oh hat upset him. He was flashing his lights at me.
To get past I had to go up to 50mph but just in front was a hairpin on the cliff edge with no barrier, not even a kerb. They have obviously been re surfacing the road for the tour as the tarmac is covered in a thick coating of grit and gravel. I was tearing towards corner and I knew if I locked my brakes the car would skid and I would be over the edge. If I was Catholic I would have been saying a few Hail Mary’s but I’m not so some thoughts along the lines of ‘Oh Shit’ went through my brain. I pumped the brakes to slow me down and not skid and threw the Little Meriva around the hairpin. Phew. Flippin’ don’t do that again! Flipping’ Frenchman. Still at least I am ok and ate Cyclist wasn’t watching. He had mentioned in Italy about me driving down the mountains quickly. Well how amI supposed to keep up then. It is about now that Nanakatz is having kittens and telling MM_Scimitar to read this while she texts me and tells me off for not being careful. It’s ok, I am alright. I was brought up by a car loving proper driver. Quite fancy Rallying driving actually. Another life maybe?
The 5th mountain was steep and my Cyclist was not about to race at this point after 9 days of very hard riding. He just peddled along to his own constant rhythm each turn getting him that little bit closer. At the top there was still 30Km to go which we thought was all downhill. Not so. After some down there was some up befor descending again. This time past a plateau that was full of wild horses, more cattle on the loose over the road and practically the whole of France having a Sunday afternoon picnic. This must be a secret French favourite place. When we got to B-d-Luchon it was a couple of Photos then in the car to knock a 100 or so miles of a 600 mile journey North to get us to Tuesdays start point. I fed The Cyclist in the car as he drove and topped him up once we arrived. It was a long day and it was after 9.30pm before I got into the shower to wash my hair as I had to give his legs a good massage. His face was so red with pain bless him.
Beautiful Day – U2 ( And it is with the blue sky and sunshine in the mountains)
Black man ray – China Crisis
Candy Man – Sammy Davis Jnr
Hole in the Ground – Bernard Cribbins ( how any of you know that one? And how any have it in your collection. My guess is only The Boss.)