With a 05.15am pick up Tim and I both decided that we would take it easy when we set off from Loudet where we are based. The converted farm house is owned by Marianne and Brian and is absolutely lovely with a small gite off to the side should you not wish to be in the large house. Not that we have experienced it yet, it has a wonderful swimming pool with a view to die for; watch this space!!
We decided that we would go for a gentle ride out to Col de Mente (category 1 climb) and take in the rustic French countryside and architecture. The quality of the roads are incredible,with little rolling resistance and the cars giving you plenty of space and respect when passing. What could go wrong?
Arriving at the base of our first ascent there was no breaking you in gently; it was straight into a 10% gradient for the first 1.5k easing a little (8.5%) before it kicks up to 11% for 2k. The next 6k is pedestrian with an easy 9% gradient before the road starts to twist and turn taking the gradient back into double figures. This climb first appeared in the Tour de France in 1966 and is stated as having an average gradient of 9.1% - not according to our legs!
A quick respite at the top led me to believe we had a technical fault. Our heart rate readings on our Garmins were identical. During the ascent, in trying to control my heart rate, I had difficulties, why?, it was due to the fact that my Garmin was picking up Tim’s heart monitor. Whoops - resolved over a diet coke then a great descent down to the bottom and a ride over to Col des Ares.
This is what climbing should be, an easy average gradient of 4% much more to our liking but for some reason the pace seemed to be a little quicker than I would have expected. It felt like we were racing up through the tree lined road with neither one of us wanting to give an inch on the other. I thought this was all about breaking our virginity in the Pyrenees gently - not so, it seems. We have now made a pact - no more racing (not sure how long that will last!). Getting to the top and dropping over the Col opened up the valley below in a way that is difficult to imagine. The sun was low and the mountain range ran
as far as the eye could see. A picture moment for sure……will have to be next time as we needed to get back before it got too dark.
A bit of a harder than planned first day with some great riding; 114k, climbing: 1,841.