Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Many years ago in the city of Lourdes nearby a series of 18 apparitions appear to Bernadette a young shepherd girl. Call it mass hysteria if you will but it has persisted. Lourdes is the second most visited city in France and everyday pilgrims pour in seeking their own miracles. They pray for health, wealth and love and purchase water and wax by the gallons. The apparition held out for a while before revealing her true identity, she asked only one thing of Bernadette; Penance and likewise promised Bernadette one thing; Happiness not in this world but the other.
The last few days had been so much fun that I doubt that it would qualify as true Penance and the other world on my mind was the Land Down Under. Yes, Sydney to Melbourne 1200K was fast approaching. Time to recover.
Day 6: Hourquette D'Ancizan, Col D'Aspin and Lourdes.
It is our last day of riding in the Pyrenees, I am perhaps already thinking of home. The Chinese say that a journey is its own reward, perhaps one of the rewards is an increased appreciation of home. Mostly I missed my own bike.
I would do today's climbs at recovery pace but I would do them all. We start from Bagnere and head up to the remote and pristine Hourquette d'Ancizan. This is Yumis favorite climb and starting from just under 2000 feet a straight climb of 3500 feet to just over 5000 feet. Stopping on the way in the Village fountain at Ste. Marie to keep hydrated, I am trying very had to not create any more lactic acid on the climbs.
A rider on the way down warns us that it is very windy up there, but it is nothing compared to Windy Ridge on the Mountain 600K Pre-ride.
At the top all we find really is the Gendarmes as this is a remote path often chosen by smugglers from Spain.
Second climb is a Tour Favorite; Aspin
But it is just as pretty.
A well rested Trudy is well ahead and I am Lanterne Rouge today, yet no one can tell me the origin of the term. I am sure Dominique B. knows.
After flying down the steep grades, the route starts to make sense as a recovery ride with a high cadence spin down the 2% grade to Bagnere.
Guess who is in the office?
Monsieur Fignon, the last French winner of the Tour, he is looking well and he is pretty busy, but takes a time out for a photo with old glory in the background.
Then off to the city of Bernadette.
We all need Miracles.
Thanx to Laurent Fignon