Max at the base of the Col Marie-Blanque

Max at the base of the Col Marie-Blanque (note that it gets steeper as you climb)

Today was a day that Molly and I had previously decided to “do our own thing.”  Our tour had two (2) options:  Riding and Non-Riding.

Molly opted for the Non-Riding option.  Her day consisted of touring a goat farm in the area and canyoning through waterfalls and streams in the Pyrenees.  She was not really sure what to expect with the canyoning…and ended up having quite the adventure (ask her for details).

Max went with the Riding option.  Today we rode a portion of what the TdF riders will do tomorrow (Thursday) in Stage 17.  This ride was describing as “very challenging” and it fit the bill.  In the TdF they categorize each climb as 4 (easiest…but no picnic) to 1 (very, very hard) to “Hors Category” (HC…beyond classification).  Our ride was approx 60mi and included a Category 1 (Col de Marie-Blanque:  9.3K with an avg grade of 7.6%) and an HC (Col D’Aubisque:  16.6K with an avg grade of 7.2%).  The Marie-Blanque, with it’s steep sections, was quite a challenge to ascend.  The descent into another small French village was a bit hairy, but made tolerable by the gorgeous views.  Unfortunately, an afternoon rain shower came in as we started up the Col D’Aubisque.  Although this kept my body cool…it got a bit too cool as I climbed into higher elevations.  Regardless of the weather, though, this was absolutely the toughest (by far) ride I have ever done in my life.  I survived!!  How the TdF riders survive it day-after-day, I have no idea.  I was told that the views from the summit are like being on top of the world.  The rain clouds made it a bit more like riding in a plane in a thunderstorm.  I was chilled to the bone, so I eat a couple of energy bars and started my descent into Laruns.  Being tired and cold (and on wet roads) I took no risks on the way down…well, I took the risk of running out of brakes.  😉 

Everyone on the tour re-grouped for dinner…complete with some live music by a group of French singers.

Tomorrow we head back to the Marie Blanque to see how the professionals climb and then travel to Bordeaux.

More to come…


2 Responses to “7.TwentyOne.20Ten”

  1. What fun! Cool pics! So beautiful! So happy for you 2! Now I am pouring me a glass (or 2) and imagining blue blue H20 to swim in, of course, all after a nice 20 mile bike ride!

  2. Stacy, Lee & Cole Z Says:


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