Today has been a very hard slog, the weather has been hot so that has made the cycling very tiring. I took a wrong turn after completing the Col du Tourmalet and that meant I had to cycle a further 60 kms - half of it up hill, and spent almost 12 hours (200 kms) on the bike that day. People said I looked like death when I arrived just after 8:00 pm in evening, face was coated with bugs stuck on my sunscreen.

The Tourmalet was very long 18 kms uphill and all at 7 per cent gradient with the final kilometre at 10 per cent - it just seemed to go on and on and on and on. I felt ok for the first 10 kilometres then took a toilet break. The road just goes up and up, visually it's deceptive as it doesn't look too steep but your legs tell you otherwise. Most cyclists were in the same boat as me, pained expressions on their faces, legs just churning over. The middle section has a detour for cyclists only dedicated to the late French Tour de France winner, Laurent Fignon, so there was some respite from the car traffic.

Still it was good to get to the top and the view is spectacular. Broke two hours for the Tourmalet, about 1 hr 56 min so gotta be happy about that on such a sweltering day. The descent down the other side to La Mongie was exciting, I got stuck behind a motorbike rider but lacked the guts to overtake him on the descent, so was riding the brakes a bit and stopped half way down to let the tyre rims cool down so the heat wouldn't blow a tyre. Saw some crazy cyclist pass me, the motorbike, and few other cars in a daring move, he must've been doing close to 80 km/hr.

All was going swimmingly until the bike GPS packed it in (corrupt GPX file is my guess) and it stopped issuing directions, took many wrong turns until the Iphone sort of kicked in as a back-up. Anyway let's say I saw a lot of rural areas in these parts - including too very tough "hills" each about 3 to 4 km and som bits well over 14% and at one time 20% - first time I had the experience of a gradient that steep that my front tyre lifted off the ground!! The descents at dusk on farm roads was quite hair raising as well.

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The bottom of the valley in this photo is about half way up!

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Yep, that's me looking refreshed!




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