Monday, October 26, 2009

Breche de Roland

Charlemagne and his forces have been forced by the Moors to retreat from Spain through the Pyrenees, he has left his cousin Roland with his men at a strategic location in the Mountains as a rear guard. He will come to his assistance once the withdrawal is achieved. At least in one version, when Roland blows his horn, a signal for the relief effort. Charlemagne ignores the signal. Roland then pulls out his broadsword and cuts a gap in the mountain, the breach of Roland, an impressive 300 by 200 foot vertical cut in the mountain ridge. His men escape through the gap and Roland dies of exhaustion. Or so the story goes.

Day two: Col de Boucharo
After soup, salad, main dish and desert the night before. I did not feel that I had packed in enough calories, so I was still pigging out on bread, Nutella, pastries and orange juice when Jean-Phi arrived promptly. His plan was to get me 10,000 vertical feet of climbing. He has several options but as a cyclist I am sympathetic to the story of Roland. He would be kinder to Trudy and drive her up to Luz to start her Climb there, while I am to start from Argeles almost a straight shot south to meet with them at Luz.

It is a cold and frosty morning, I am in wool and a softshell, but there is sun and no storm clouds up in the peaks.

I ride up with the river (Gave de Gavarnie) and it is a non-punishing grade, there are contemporary bridges across this river as well as bridges built by Napoleon and the Romans.

I meet up with them and we head up to Gavarnie. These sleepy little towns come alive in the summer with tourists and soon during the Ski season.

We make a right turn and head up the Col de Boucharo riding past Our Lady of Gavarnie as she looks over and protects the sheep in the valley.

As the grades start to exact a toll,

Our guide stays with Trudy while I run up to the Port de Boucharo, the door to Roland's Breach.

I have mountain bike shoes I may be able to get to it.

As I get there I am thinking that a mighty glacier must have been before.

I cannot find a place to hide my bike for the hike.

And I do not want to declare "Je suis Perdu" like Bob Brudvik on the Rev.

Realizing that I am by the lost mountain between France and Spain.

I cross over to Spain and I shout "Hey Pistolero" (Alberto) "will you fire your piece at the top of the Tourmalet next year"? As if he could hear.

They come looking for me, and we all manage a careful descent back to Gavarnie for lunch.
A beer and pizza, I am ready for the second climb to the Cirque de Tromouse, Jean Phi's favorite.
Oops! once again I break something on a bike.

Plastic Bike! I can hear Bill Olsen say. I can coast to Luz were we get the car and drive to Bagnere. Alain is helpful he replaces it with the slightly smaller size that I passed over the day before.
45 miles and 6,000 accumulated vertical feet, I guess that will have to be enough for one day. Trudy quickly agrees.

Thanks to Alain and the Laurent Fignon Centre

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