Thursday, 30 June 2011

Col de Tourmalet

Col de Tourmalet- Col d’Aspin and Vielle Aure

Ian set off at about 9am, whilst I took my time and re-filled supplies at the local Carrefour.  Then off north to Lourdes, Tournay and then south towards the high Pyrenees and Spain again.  I could have taken the same route as Ian, and would have done but the weather was poor- misty, drizzly and cold.  The route directly east goes over the Tourmalet and then over Col d’Aspin and then on to the campsite at Vielle Aure in the Aure valley, just beyond Arrau.  The drive over was a delight in spite of the poor weather.  Rolling wooded hills- a bit like an expanded version of Monsal Dale!

Ian arrived pretty promptly- 43 miles and 6800’ climbing, and was frozen.  A couple of cups of hot tea and lunch later and he was feeling a lot better.  I set off to do some of the Aspin climb, but found it a nice gradient and continued on to the top, 1470m.  But it was cold and raining near the top, and the warmth of the success of getting to the top at a good pace, without stopping wasn’t enough to stop me shivering!  The route down was a bit scary because it was really wet, but at least not so steep, occasionally 8%, but mainly 6%.  I tried to exorcise my demons of downhill fears, but still had to stop a few times to hug my hands and get some feeling back in them.  It’s really taken me aback, how hard coming down is.  I think I hate it more than going up!!

Luz Ardiden
It was my turn to need hot tea and took ages to warm up.  It’s so cold, but our friendly host assures us that it will be sunny tomorrow.  Very warm and friendly in this area.  Ian is about half-way though this year’s odyssey.  I’m amazed at how strong he is at climbing this year.  He’s really improved, but the down side is I’ve lost my cycling buddy!!

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