We awoke to a robbery this morning!!! Looking out of the window it appeared that some kind hearted person had stolen the Pyrenees. Covered in a blanket of mist our spectacular view from our room was replaced with a grey dull sky. Not to worry, Brian informed us at breakfast, it will burn off very quickly and the sun will light up your days’ climbing. Great!!!
We drove 10k outside of Bangeres-de-Luchon and left our trusty stead in a lay-by. This would give us time to spin our legs out before attacking the first climb. Well, using the word attack is probably a little too aggressive given that we were carrying yesterdays climbing in our legs.
Superbangeres it was then or as we renamed it Super Bangers and Mash!!! Having read the guide book on this HC climb (higher than Cat 1) it says that most people want to erase this climb from their memory. I am learning that it is not a good idea to read about these climbs in advance - top tip!! The start was lovely going through the town, so picturesque but that was quickly forgotten when the first ramp appeared. The double digit gradient was not welcoming at all. This continued for some time. Well, being honest it continued for just over 17k until the summit. This was certainly a marathon not a sprint (another term we are liking a lot) but when you get through the tree line the views are stunning. An accomplishment we will both never forget. It took us 94 pain staking minutes to climb this beast and 17 minutes to get back to the bottom - there is a message here somewhere?
With a brief interlude for a well deserve lunch we tucked into a jambon, fromage et frite butty. Exceptional tucker replacing those lost calories. Conscious of the time, we downed a strong shot of espresso and mounted our hill climbing mules to try and conquer Col du Portillon. This climb was stated on the sign as being a 13k climb with an average gradient of 6.6%. It felt like somebody had erased the number 1 in front of the 6 as we both recorded a max gradient of 15% with the majority of it being high 9’s, low 10’s. It was brutal beyond belief and another cat 1 climb which would for sure sort the men from the boys out on the Tour. Being a route to take you across the Spanish border we contemplated descending into Spain only to climb it from the other side - for all of a nano second.
Today was all about finding your groove and fuelling regularly. Luckily the homemade power balls, courtesy of my daughter, hit the spot perfectly.
Total distance covered today: 72k. Total climbing 1,824m.