Friday, September 05, 2014

Day 5 - 2014 Haute Route Pyrenees - Tourmalet Col Gathering

Day 5 - Col du Tourmalet TIME TRIAL
18.5 km / 1500 m+ / 0 m-
Pretty consistent grade until the couple km

The Col du Tourmalet is one of the highest roads in central Pyrenees (with only public side roads abit higher). The Tour de France has visited Tourmalet over 82 times since 2012.

Looked forward to my later race start with the time trial, though had another rough night with coughing once laying down to sleep. I liked hearing the church bells start the day at 7 a.m. and ending at 9 pm. At 30 minutes past the hour, there was just one ding.

I took an easy pace warm-up 18 km to Luz-Saint-Sauveur for the time trial start. It helped to have Iron Rider Ralph from Switzerland come by as following him upped my pace. He noted I had a cough as did he. His started a few days into his first event, the Dolomites race. He said his cough came back during the Pyrenees event.

time trial start ramp - photo Haute Route twitter
The time trial ramp was setup in the town center causing a traffic jam to divert the cars. The atmosphere was bubbling with riders waiting for their starts and townspeople out to watch.

Fighting to counter the imbalanced hold!  photorunningfr
The guy holding my bike at the start tilted it to the right. I commented that I felt like I was going to tip over, and he kept it tilted saying “it’s okay”. Nooo, it wasn’t! I was wide-eyed waiting for the countdown to go.
Phew, made it without tipping!
When he let go, I had to correct my balance and thankfully made it down the ramp without tipping over. Phew, those few moments of zapped energy!

A pic of Amy's battle of the lopsided hold! too funny in a way
Other women commented the same. Amy said she was using her core strongly to offset that guy’s tilted hold.

Off I dashed for a nice sprint interval until I saw the timing mat sign. I forgot that the actual starting mat was another km down the road. Good warm-up! 

Long straight road after Barèges average 7% grade - photo Manu Molle
The beginning grade was deceivingly a solid 7% as the road was one long stretch. I attempted a reasonable pace. 

It was not long before Jon Bula from Vancouver passed me. Once he was 30m ahead, I picked up my pace as I realized I had ridden his pace the prior day. I kept that 30m distance for a few kilometres. A lot of hobby riders were out for a leisure ride. I passed only a few early starting racers later on-route.

After a 12% grade section to get out of one village, I finally approached the first few turns to the road. The grade still 7-8% though seemed tougher as the top was seen high up in the distance.

Into the beautiful open landscape up Col du Tourmalet
 - photo Manu Molle
The scenery was very green and open the next while. With 3 km to go, the lead guys who started behind me began to pass me. One guy, might have been Paul Hamblett, hollered only 6 more min to the top. The last few corners seemed to take forever. He was right, it took 6 long min.

Post Time Trial at the top of Col du Tourmalet, I'm in red jersey headed for a photo with Octave - photo Twitter Haute Route
Total frenzy at the top with riders and crowds all over the road, free-ranging much like the sheep and cows! No car travelling that road could easily get by. Could barely even tell there was a road as it looked like a party!

Many photos were taken with the statue of Octave Lapize. The statue was put up in honour of Octave who was the first racer to the top of Col du Tourmalet held in the Tour de France in 1910.

Had a nice fast descent with a couple riders from “Team Tyred and Tested!”. On the gentler grade back to Argelès-Gazost, I followed one rider at a nice easy pace into town.

Relaxing via Compex... with Canadian riders Jim Salusbury (left) and Jon Bula (right). My roomie Vanessa from France sitting in the white chair kept me company
Osteopath Gael was amazing helping release all the tension in the arms to my hands. I was getting numbness into the first three fingers on both hands on the climbs. 

A POC aero helmet for the top riders in the TT
 - nice astronaut look though aero!
Caroline did not start the time trial. Amy came in 3rd with Pauline Sabine from France in 2nd. During the three Haute Route events, Amy best utilized the time trial days as rest and recovery days. Makes sense as only a couple minutes effort could be gained and the recovery time would be much more welcome.

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