Haute Route Pyrenees stage 2: Pau to Argeles-Gazost

2nd day dawned bright and we even got a lay- in due to a running race going up the Aubisque too.

So 9.30 start in Pau. Here’s other Simon and Gavin, other Team Sticky Bottle members, waiting eagerly:

The first 50km were much like yesterday in that they were supposed to be a warm up but they were not flat. Difference today was I hid myself in a group for shelter so was at the base of the Marie Blanque fresh:

This is one of the famous Pyreneean cols used many times in the Tour. It’s 9.1 km long and an avg gradient of 7.7. That’s mostly in the last 4km which are tough after an easy start. Today was spectacular for views:

The descent off of the summit was my favourite so far. Bit technical at the top and then opening up into a wide valley.

After a quick ride through the valley in a group it was time for the longest of the day, the Aubisque. Again, used numerous times in the TDF with the famous bike sculpture at the summit. It’s 16.9km long, averaging 7.5% and it was my favourite climb so far because it is quite steady around that mark so you can get a good rhythm. Well you can if you don’t puncture like I did! A duff inner tube wasted both my CO2 cartridges so I threw myself on the generosity of another rider who came to my aid with a pump. I’ll try to get a photo with him when I see him. He has very kind to wait and help.

Anyway I finally made it to the top and had to go for the classic shot:

Next up was a quick down and up over a saddle and up to Col du Soulor which wasn’t much at 3.6km and just over 5% (get me!)

A long descent — I’ve learned already that descents are stressful and tiring or your hands and arms — led into the last climb , the Col De Spandelles. This was on a fairly poor road and averaged 8.3% for 10.3km so it was a tough finish. Dropped down to the granny ring and ground up to the summit to stop the day’s timing with some spectacular views:

Then it was another bumpy, hair-raising descent into another very pretty French town:

Tomorrow is the time-trial so just 1 mountain and 16.5km. I’m supposed to smash it. Hmm…

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