Monday, November 16, 2009

The Grange

Dominick at the Miramont spoke very good English, she like all our hosts in Argeles were eager to be helpful. We would always see her at dinner time when she was eager to explain the menu.
On learning that I had climbed the Hautacam her interest was piqued and she reminisced about hosting a famous Texan while encouraging me to try his favorite desert. She remembered he was pissed because the Hautacam was closed. Like me he likes to climb in cold weather I thought.

Day 5: Cirque Du Troumouse, Cirque Du Gavarnie
Up early to get the bikes from the Grange

Trudy would decide to leave her bike in the Grange under the watchful eyes of Champion American teams who left memorabilia to thank their hosts.

A wise decision indeed as this would be a difficult day on the bike for me.
We set out to climb to the Cirque Du Troumouse (Jean-Phi's favorite) we had missed it as the second climb when I broke the cranks. I am doing fairly OK until we get past Gavarnie and the real climb begins.
I wonder if I need protein, but the charcuterie only serves to bloat my gut, I am not climbing well.

I can see why it is J-Phi's favorite climb, it is desolate and preaches for solitude.

I encourage my friend to ride on ahead as I plod slowly through switchback after switchback.

Very wobbly amongst the sure-footed.

Lost in my own thoughts till I need a break from those thoughts.

I do make it to the top and walk it off in that remote natural amphitheater.

Time to go back down to Gavarnie.

We have climbed close to 5000 feet in 27 miles and I am pooped.
We spend the afternoon hiking up to the Cirque Du Gavarnie, on the way we are entertained by a donkey show.

I think I am happy to be off the bike.

In this other famous natural amphitheater.

So Happy I perform a little rap skit.

Thanks to the Owners and Staff of the Miramont

Friday, November 13, 2009


For the years that I have known Jean Philippe. we had spent almost all our time together either fighting our way up a stiff grade or descending on the other side, with greater trepidation on my side. Like quite a few cyclists that I know, he must have some disdain for my almost always clasped-on headphones. He had told me once that he much prefers the sound of nature, but on I-90....
As we clawed our way up Hautacam, I saw the sign indicating 1k to the summit and I gave it my all. J-Phi then did two things he had never done before. He rode close and removed my left earpiece, and he asked me to back off. He had good reason, though his clock would stop as it did in the TDF time trial at the posted summit, we had to climb 2 more miles to the Ski Lodge.
He had opened Pandora's Box, he would discover what I keep shut down in there. That I talk a lot and with a loud guttural African voice, that I am not reluctant to be opinionated about controversial subjects and that I interrupt without being aware of it. Qualities that can make me rather insufferable.

Day 4: Col Du Solour, Col D'Aubisque, Hautacam

By morning the clouds were gone.

Trudy led us up the beautiful Col D'Aubisque

And though I wish I could fly up these mountains.

I am more like these fellas.

It is nice to be out there and Trudy is climbing strong in her blue shirt.

To get to the summit of Aubisque we have to pass through the Solour.

We descend into a wooded area with beautiful fall colors.

And stop to refuel with dried fruit.

Finally Col D'Aubisque.

There is a restaurant open up there and I order the Plat de cyclistes. It is Gabure as it is called in the region, similar to a Cassoulet, It is a hearty soup with beans, potatoes, pork and other vegetables. This time they have a drumstick of duck in it. I wash it down with a heated light wine almost like a Sangria and it is time to descend. Trudy follows us back down and up back to the Col Du Solour and joins Yumi.

As we descend deeper into the valley towards Argeles, J-Phi starts to lighten up and I follow suit.

Next is Hautacam. J-Phi wants to time us on this brutal climb and its the last thing I want to hear. I had spent it all a week ago on the last 3 days of "Endless Mountains" I am on vacation.

I block his encouraging words out with my headphones and the numbing view.

Yet I let him pace me up, using the milder 8% grades to clear the lactic acid.

Battling through the bonus 2 miles after the official summit, I can only wonder if we made his time cut-off.

That look on his face at the Ski Lodge says it all.

Ice cream at the lodge; this one's for Kole.
And a shot of cognac for the cold descent.
About 10,000 feet in less than 60 miles

Thanx to Kole for his backwheel on many a climb.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Whidbey without the Mambo

Ferry Chaser's at Fairhaven

Thanks to Mark Roberts for the Photo