The first major climb of the day, the category 1 Col de Marie-Blanque was just as steep as I remembered it, not an easy climb at all, the gradient is just unrelenting but I was pleased with how I coped with it. I'd decided today to be less restrained with my effort given that this was the last mountain stage and things went very well. Again I seemed to have recovered well with my SKINS compression clothing, and my sensible eating and hydration plan which I've stuck to throughout.
The second category 1 climb, the Col du Soulor was a very long climb and again it was very hot throughout and I managed to get bitten by insects several times which wasn't much fun. The upper parts of the climb were exceptionally beautiful and again this is a place to revisit using a more relaxing mode of transport, like a comfortable campervan :-)
The final major obstacle of the day then had to be tackled, the monster Col du Tourmalet, for the second time in three days which surely has to be enough for one lifetime! I pressed on feeling pretty good having stopped by the road for a chocolate waffle and a can of Coke. Finally the end of the climb came and I was really quite emotional. Emotional not just because I had reached the top and the end of the stage but that this marked the end of the mountain stages of the Tour de France route and I felt that I had overcome a massive hurdle in my effort to ride the entire route of The Tour.
If all goes to plan I now have a long (198km) "flat" stage tomorrow which has NO categorised climbs, then the TT route, and then the final stage into Paris to complete. I am now starting to believe that I might actually make this happen, I just need to keep my self discipline, my concentration, and my head for 3 more days.
Today has been quite a day in my life, one that will stay with me for the rest of it I am sure – truly epic.
Photographs from Today:
Vineyards with the Pyrenees in the background.
Centre of Oloron St Marie.
Col de Marie-Blanque summit approach.
Col de Marie-Blanque summit memorial stone.
View from the upper part of the ascent of the Col du Soulor.
Col du Tourmalet summit. Second time in 3 days.
Col du Tourmalet summit.
Col du Tourmalet summit café.
Cloudless blue skies again and again very hot, well into the 30s. Even though it was very hot it was nice to be able to see the views from the summits of the climbs, unlike the day before yesterday when there was thick fog.
Ride Time: 11:36hh:mm
Ride Distance: 112.5 miles
Elevation Gain: About 15,000feet