Friday, September 06, 2013

Haute Route Pyrenees Day 6 - Into the Col d'Aubisque Fog

Day 6 - Argeles-Gazost to Pau, 101 km, 2300m+, 2600m-

Summary - Road race-like, yay. Expected outstanding views vanished amidst the fog. Nice climb gradient day!

I see four climbs!

After the 3 km neutral start, I stayed near the front of the group. As I was tucked in nicely, I managed the pace well. Approaching around 11 km we hit the first steep rise in the road where the guys easily floated away.

After the grade lowered, I worked to latch onto the rear of the pack though had trouble lowering my high breathrate. I resigned to climb hard at my own pace.

Stuck with a few straggler guys. Descended and started the next climb. Before I knew it the 5k to go sign was up as we rolled into dense fog. 

Found this on the Haute Route NEWS:
The pace and gradient took everyone by surprise, getting the better of even the most elite riders. Australian Chris Dick racing with El Canto team finished 45th in an impressive 02:33:43, but was dropped from his group on the steepest section, “The first climb I tried to hold on to the leading group as long as I could, but it ramped up and I just slid off the back. I ended up riding with Marg Fedyna who is the contending leading woman which was fantastic. We stuck together coming over the Aubisque then the descent through the mist was quite incredible. Very happy to get with a nice bunch at the bottom and we were just freight-training it all the way home. A fantastic day, it was epic."

Swiss racer, Samuel Kummrow, who worked
at The Bike Barn in Penticton
For some reason, I thought we had 4 climbs today. While on what I thought was the 3rd climb, I prepared mentally for the final one. When I saw the 5 km to go sign was at the distance marker for the last climb… I got excited knowing THIS was the last climb and the top was near – my misjudged bonus!
Could barely see the markers to the summit of Col D’Aubisque with 30m to go. Apparently, we also missed seeing the breathtaking balcony views of the magnificent Aubisque.

Starting the descent was scary going down into the fog with only 20m visibility best. I followed a guy down with a couple guys following me. It was very hard to see when the corners came. We descended quickly on misty wet roads, and fortunately came out unscathed.
photo - Manu Molle
I was concerned with the brakes working effectively though had no issues to slow down quick when needed. Glad to finally escape the fog to fast still dew-y roads.

A nice peloton of 6-ish guys formed and we flew on the rest of the bumpy narrow roads in the valley. Some thought it to be similar to the English countryside. If not for the twists and turns, it would be similar to following an ERTC peloton out to Devon.

Caroline and I standing in front of our hotel with her pink jersey barely visible from the top floor hanging out to dry

Closer to the finish there were still rises where a few “ughs” were heard. Finished at the top of a slight rise to an old historical area. Phew.

Laetitia came in strongly many minutes back, with Valerie next.

We still had a leisurely 12 km ride back to the large town of Pau. Nice to have extra time in town.

Squeezed between Laetitia Roux and Valerie Berthod
 - not a bad place to be :)

At the awards, it was ultra cool and appreciated to get many cheers when I was announced as the first woman today. I think my weird climbing style & overall smallness has won the underdog cheers.

Joined the Black Widows for dinner.
Got the Team invite for next year!
The only lure would be a black jersey with a pink spider
vs the pink jersey with black spider.

Award was a HUGE basket full of the best of the best local foods. I shared it all at the aperitif party with the racers. Lots of fun to pass out the goodies. The guys have helped me out and it was a nice way to say thanks.

DAY 7 Preview
Day 7 course has been changed due to weather. The first epic Col is cut out. There will be a 16+ km neutral start. In the morning, pending good weather, the 2nd climb will stay in. If not, it will be a long neutral start with a short timed section in the rolling hills.

 All Haute Route POSTS


Ruud van Dijk said...

you won! congratulations! there may be an Haute Route Pyrenees for the next 500 years, but there will never be another winner of the first edition than you; enjoy the frame!

Marg Fedyna said...

Thanks Ruud! The frame can still be shipped from LOOK to any other address... See you at the Dolomites!