As I write this post I’m sat on my hotel room bed nursing a belly full after pasta after a day basking in the sun and riding probably the most scenic climb I will ever do. Today we had everything on our side; yesterday was a different story.
A cloudy day back home is generally something of a relief. At least it isn’t raining. Here though, in the high mountains of the Pyrenees a bit of cloud spells cold and wet conditions at the summit of any Col.
So on day 2 and straight after breakfast we decided to tackle the mighty Hautacam. This ski resort has a fantastic road leading up to it which has been used as a stage finish numerous times in the Tour De France. It’s an Hors catégorie climb which feels very long and very steep. After my efforts the day before up Col Du Soulor and Col d’Aubisque I decided to take it easy and stay with the group.
The climb is 9 miles long and everages 7.5% but has some pretty steep sections too. We actually continued on the road upwards and conquered the next Col across, the du Tramassel . This made both the average grade and length slightly bigger.
The start of the climb was warm and dry but as you broke through the clouds the weather grew progressively worse. The mist turned to drizzle, the drizzle to heavy rain. At the top there was a cafe, an incredibly welcome sight. However it was shut on the day. Shivering, we gingerly descended back to Argeles and had a fantastic lunch at a local restaurant where I demolished a pizza. The rest of the day was spent heading at a leisurely pace towards Luz Saint Sauveur to asses the damage and see what roads remained closed.
Jump to today and a completely different story. Not a cloud in the sky making for a very warm day. After visiting Luz we discovered that the road to Gavarnie had been reopened and decided that should be our destination today. The original plan was to go up Luz Ardiden but we came across a climb called Cirque de Troumouse and it was decided we would head up there and do Luz Ardiden on the way back if we still had the legs.
I had seen the Cirque de Troumouse climb on Strava and knew roughly where it started so decided to have a good go up it. At just over 9 miles long the climb averages 6.9% – but this isn’t really an indication of how tough it is. There are some flat sections and a tiny downhill section. The main climbing is probably somewhere between 7-10%.
I dug deep and ended up setting another Strava KOM. This has probably become my favourite to date as the climb was so beautiful and I felt I paced myself extremely well. Towards the end I could feel myself fading but I kept telling myself “only a mile to go” and hung on. In the end I put almost 5 and a half minutes into the previous KOM time, so I’m chuffed to bits.
The view and scenery at the top was worth all the suffering and more. I can’t put it into words so the pictures below this post will have to do!
There is no real plan for the next few days except to get up the Tourmalet. I can’t wait to give that one a bash!