Le Loop - Stage 17...Barry's view
If yesterday was long...today was meant to be “short”. Only 42 miles but 3100m of climbing on two cat 1’sfollowed by an HC (note, HC stands for “hardcore”).
Not the best sleep in the world, few tired bodies today but we rolled out at 8am,straight into the Peyresourde/Peyragudes. This 15km climb at a mere 6.7% average was meant to be the easy climb of the day. Small mercy that it was early but it was still sapping. I think I managed it in a one-er but can’t remember!
Quick descent and straight into the second one, Val Louron-Azet. 7.4km, 8.3%. This was tough. So hot, so steep. I had to take numerous pit stops to get my legs back.
It’s really difficult to describe what climbing at gradients over 7% is like. Lower than 7 is manageable (for me, anyway) but 8 and over is relentless.
Off that one, descent into St Lary (and past the hotel for tonight, so tempting knowing you’ve got to go up to come back).
The final climb was the Col du Portet, 16km at an eye-watering 8.7%. It was essentially two climbs, 8km up the Pla d’adet, then another 8km to the top of the Portet.
The lower slopes were hitting 38 degrees, harsh gradients, and the roads were being tarmacked- not ideal! The feed station before the turn onto the Portet was a welcome relief as water was running low & I was hungry.....however, lunch was only allowed on the way back down! Gutted.
The 8km up the Portet I quite enjoyed, knowing it was the final push on rugged roads. The scenery was amazing, looking back over the mountains to the top of the first climb. Cows all over the road, sheep trying to eat my bike. That’s the Pyrenees for you.
A supposedly flat day tomorrow, let’s see which way the wind blows....