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Rapha CCC Recce: Pyrenees Part II
Phil Deeker has sent a follow up report on the reconnaissance of the 2010 Rapha Cent Cols Challenge in the Pyrenees.
5 out of 10 stages ridden and we have already climbed as much as most Pyrenean Raids do over 10 days. 24,500m Up. Yesterday officially the hottest day of the summer down here. 40°C on the Col de Bagargui will not be forgotten. Amazingly, none of us even cramped. Bodies are co-operating, albeit at times unwillingly to our deranged minds’ demands.
Unanimous opinion in the group is that the Pyrenees are harder to ride than the Alps. By a long way. They are right. The guys look thinner, have done a bit of teeth grinding, but complaining has been controlled. I keep telling them to catch the views, but some spend most of their time observing the handlebars!
The climbs are Steep. We are doing the big classics, of course, but we are also climbing the ones only the locals know. Those are the hardest. Anyone climbed the Aphanize from the Behorleguy? If so, respect! In 40°C of merciless sun it’s even harder. Amazing views though. The Col du Couret has probably been one of our hardest yet. Not many people know that one. Understandably, I guess! The Soudet and the Pierre St Martin, from Ste Engracie and Arette respectively were right up there too.
The views are as breathtaking as the climbs themselves, but the price we are paying for this is massive liquid loss. It’s bad when even swallowing water seems too hard! Gels and bars are out of the question. We feel sick just at the thought of them.
Descents have been thrilling / scary / air-cushion smooth and bone-shakingly bumpy. You get it all in the Pyrenees. Bodies are hurting, but no serious injuries. Morale has been hit, but holding out well. A day off to cuddle and clean bikes and rest our legs at the most easterly point of the Challenge has been a big relief.
Ascents ask for 110% body focus; descents require 110% mental focus, and there is not much time in between the two. It gets to you after a while. These Challenges are really something quite special.
The next stage will take us over the Aubisque, Soulor, Borderes, Tourmalet, Hourquette d’Ancizan and up the Pla d’Adet (Col de Portet -the ‘other’ one). It will be a long ride and will mean 5,700m of climbing. But yet again it will be a day to look back on with mysterious fondness.
See more pictures on Phil's Flickr page
Favourite Tweet of the week: What a day. TheTourmalet was shining in all its glory with good old Elton singing in our ears
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