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  1. #1
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    second installment RBR TDF 2005

    As described in part 1 and part 3, RBR's Teo and MarkS joined me in France for a TDF-riding blow-out. Teo and I got some riding in ahead of the Etape du Tour in and around Argeles -- including going up the Aubisque and the Tourmalet -- to prime our climbing legs for the Etape. Here are some pic's from those two days -- the first ride leaving Argeles, going over the col de Spandelles and over and up the Aubisque before coming back down to Argeles. The second are from a ride up the Tourmalet and down round back through Lourdes to Argeles.

    Enjoy!

    Philippe
    First pic... every day starts with a good breakfast -- and for Teo, that means eggs and fixins. Teo shows us just how bad jetlag can get....
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails RBR Get-together TDF 2005 v.2-cimg3168.jpg  
    Last edited by philippec; 10-08-2005 at 12:28 AM.
    Biking round the world -- Where have I been with my bike?

  2. #2
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    Rr#2

    And we're off over the col de Spandelles first. This is a wicked little "mise en jambes" as we like to say here. Sun is out but it is co-oold, especially for July and especially for Teo who just left the Texas heat a few scant days ago. The road is nice, lightly traveled and dotted with the occasional mammoth horse/cow dump. The clouds are low and we quickly get to the top. The other side has an epic descent through dozens of tight hairpin turns -- I try to convince Teo that this is a brake-optional descent, but he doesn't quite trust me on that one... The last slide shows a hypothermic Teo riding past a fairly common road hazard in this part of the world -- the ubiquitous free-ranging sheep/goats.
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    Biking round the world -- Where have I been with my bike?

  3. #3
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    Rr#3

    Here is the map of the route we are riding. After hitting the valley bottom, we start scouting for some food and warm drinks. We find a "restaurant" -- but no food! So after a hot chocolate for Teo and a " tight" expresso for me, we ride on in search of sustenance. Teo lays down the hammer on the the Pyrenean foothill rollers he tells me are just like the hills around Austin. While riding around to the base of the Aubisque, we come across quite a few riders -- it seems we are not the only ones scouting out the Etape route. Finally, we come to a town with an open boulangerie. Teo and I fuel up before hitting the run into Laruns and the steep and long slog that is the Aubisque.
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    Biking round the world -- Where have I been with my bike?

  4. #4
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    Rr#4

    Holy sudden weather changes batman!! Two hours ago, Teo was so cold he could barely unclench his teeth -- now we are both roasting in Laruns at the foot of the Aubisque. Like most towns in France, the centre has a refreshing fountain which we put to good use. Teo is re-energised by the soak and puts in a smoking performance on the Aubisque. I, on the other hand, am thinking about you guys and stop to snap a few pics on the way up -- or so I tell Teo. Fact is, this climb is a mother and I bonk near the top. Lucky for you, I choose to bonk in a particularly pituresque setting... We have a drink at the top, chat with a few Quebecers doing scouting the Etape and get ready to bomb down the other side.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails RBR Get-together TDF 2005 v.2-cimg3100.jpg   RBR Get-together TDF 2005 v.2-cimg3101.jpg   RBR Get-together TDF 2005 v.2-cimg3102.jpg   RBR Get-together TDF 2005 v.2-cimg3103.jpg  
    Biking round the world -- Where have I been with my bike?

  5. #5
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    Lucky you!

    Stunning pictures, thanks for sharing! Looks like an unforgettable adventure.

    Did you see any women doing L'Etape??

  6. #6
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    Rr#5

    And we're off! Down the Aubisque all the way to Argeles! But wait, I forgot to tell Teo we have to go back up over the Soulor to get back home... why does Teo (fourth from last picture) frown when I tell him this, I do not know?

    Later that week when we we crest the Soulor, it is in a sea of cheering spectators during the Etape -- what a contrast from here where our only company are a few cows.

    The back side of the Aubisque is one of my favorite rides in the Pyrenees, the road literally hangs onto the mountainside and a very sheer drop-off on the south side keeps you honest. The first picture is where Van Est ran off the road into the ravine while wearing the yellow jersey in the 1951 TDF. Teo keeps right and goes on to ride another day. Van Est was not so lucky and had to abandon the race. Later Teo runs into some road hazards and scatters them by bellowing "hook 'em horns", unconventional but effective!

    Finally, we reach Argeles and on the way home Teo tries to convince me that the Pez-cycling blue is really a pretty nice color...

    Finally, after a copious meal at the Gite, the sun sets on the mountains and two zonked riders ...
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  7. #7
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    Oh yes!!

    Were there any women doing the Etape? Tons -- I'd say about 20%. Attractive fit women, many of whom could ride the legs off most of the male riders of the Etape!

    A+

    Philippe
    Biking round the world -- Where have I been with my bike?

  8. #8
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    Rr#6

    The next day we take it easy and do an easy ride around Lourdes. The day after, we decide to head on up the Tourmalet and loop back around back to Argeles the long way through Lourdes -- despite the cold temps. predicted for the top of the Tourmalet. The day starts off nicely and we have a relatively easy time cruising on up the Tourmalet from the west side. We pass the german bob trailer guy who is crossing the Pyrenees hauling his gear in his trailer and getting extensive use of his 20x36 (Teo, got a pic?). Teo goofs off and shows me how to empty a fun-pac hands free -- in return, I suggest that if he grabs his drops when he sees me taking a pictue, he will look more Pantani-esque. Good fun had by all on the way up... but what are those clouds doing massing on the other side of the pass?
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    Biking round the world -- Where have I been with my bike?

  9. #9
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    Rr#7

    We stop at the top and duck into the cafe there for a quick coffee. Here you can see a few old (e.g. 1903-1912 race bikes displayed on the walls. Hard to believe that people raced these steel-piped monsters up the goat-tracks that these roads once were! Also, gotto like the " cyclists, help yourselves" box of newspaper. Despite all the wonder fabrics around, humankind has yet to surpass the ease of use and effectiveness of newspaper under the jersey for keeping the cold and damp out. teo and I help ourselves generously.

    Teo is dubious that I deserve the title of "Giant of the Mountain". I tell him that "giant" doesn't have the same conotation in French as in English. It really means "slightly mediocre climber who has managed not to fully disgrace himself on roads of the Tourmalet". Teo defers to my superior knowledge of French and agrees to take my picture next to the sign.

    By now it is getting verry cooold and we head down right into a bank of clouds -- a bank of snow-forming clouds that is. I have been colder on a bike -- but only rarely. Teo, quite possibly, has never been as cold on a bike and has a hard time getting his brain to activate his braking reflexes. We stop off and buy him a pair of gloves at La Mongie and soldier on. We have two descending styles. I'm on the " the faster I get down, the warmer it will be" plan and Teo is on the " What the f*ck is up with Philippe?!, I want to live to see 40 years old" plan.

    The upside is that while waiting for my cold friend, I get to witness some slug loving (eeewww!) and get a pic of the signs that riders grow to hate in the Pyrenees -- the signs that every km. remind you how far you have gone (I could have sworn I was climbing faster!) and what the average slope of the next km. will be (9% aaggghhh!). Finally we re-group at the foot of the col and head into the nearest restaurant for some Garbure for me (soup w/ goose confit, cabbage, beans, veggies, etc..) and Lamp chops and fries for Teo. Man that sh*t is the shizzle!!

    After the meal, I am ready to go back up the Tourmalet! Teo tells me that's the confit talking and snaps me out of it -- he suggests we loop south to Bagneres de Bigorre and through Lourdes. Good call! The sun comes out, the roads are beautiful (sorry, no pics since my camera was almost full) and Teo was able to confirm that not washing your hands before your meals can indeed lead you somplace very bad...

    With one last shot of the Pyrenean foothills, I'm going to sign off until this w-end with the final installment of this report.

    A+

    Philippe
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    Biking round the world -- Where have I been with my bike?

  10. #10
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    I gotta say those pictures make France look like the best place on Earth to ride a bike.

  11. #11
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    Cool A dream....

    This extended post is a dream. Stunning pictures and great writing.

    You should write a travelogue. I'd buy it!

  12. #12
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    Nice report and photos!

    Dr. Cox: Lady, people aren't chocolates. Do you know what they are mostly? Bastards. Bastard-coated bastards with bastard fillings. But I don't find them half as annoying as I find naive bubble-headed optimists who walk around vomiting sunshine.

  13. #13
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    Phillipe - awesome job with the camera! Great photo's. That slug shot was odd. If you hadn't told me what it was I'd have wondered why you were taking pics of a pile of doodoo.;)

    Two other things I thought were really cool were that "Hook 'em Horns!" was being bellowed in the French countryside, and that a 360 Cycleworks jersey was zipping down the mountains. Teo - do you work at the shop? I've ridden some of the 360 rides - thought you looked familiar from the pics. Anyway, good job guys. I'm soooo going to have to do this sometime. ;)

    -Mike

  14. #14
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    welll....

    Quote Originally Posted by ravenmore
    Phillipe - awesome job with the camera! Great photo's. That slug shot was odd. If you hadn't told me what it was I'd have wondered why you were taking pics of a pile of doodoo.;)

    Two other things I thought were really cool were that "Hook 'em Horns!" was being bellowed in the French countryside, and that a 360 Cycleworks jersey was zipping down the mountains. Teo - do you work at the shop? I've ridden some of the 360 rides - thought you looked familiar from the pics. Anyway, good job guys. I'm soooo going to have to do this sometime. ;)

    -Mike
    To be honest, I'm not sure what exactly Teo yelled, and I'm afraid that if I print what I *thought* he said, my posting rights might be permanently revoked! In any case, whatever he yelled sure seemed to work, I have rarely seeen animals on hoof move so rapidly -- and I've been to the Kentucky Derby!

    A+

    Philippe
    Biking round the world -- Where have I been with my bike?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravenmore
    Phillipe - awesome job with the camera! Great photo's. That slug shot was odd. If you hadn't told me what it was I'd have wondered why you were taking pics of a pile of doodoo.;)

    Two other things I thought were really cool were that "Hook 'em Horns!" was being bellowed in the French countryside, and that a 360 Cycleworks jersey was zipping down the mountains. Teo - do you work at the shop? I've ridden some of the 360 rides - thought you looked familiar from the pics. Anyway, good job guys. I'm soooo going to have to do this sometime. ;)

    -Mike
    I do work at the shop. Just home from a long day at the shop in fact. Getting late now so I'll chip in with some commentary and photos from my camera from the day. For those of you that think the climb is the hardest part I can only the descent can often be as tough if it is cold.

    Our long lunch reeaaaaally saved the day on the climb of the Tourmalet. Phillipe and I must have looked pretty wrecked because all the eyes of the other diners were on us. Most asked if we wer okay. When I saw the special (Lamb chops and frites) being served at the table next to me I thought the frites looked incredible and it also looked like it took a while to cook--a distinct bonues when your cold and sitting in a warm restuarant.

  16. #16
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    Thanks for taking the time to share the excellent pics and commentary. Makes me envious!

  17. #17
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    Great ride report!! Thanks for the pics and narative. Looks like you guys had a blast.

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    Very nice. Thanks for posting.

  19. #19
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    Picture Hijack!!

    So just like Phillipe mentioned we'd moved on from Nantes to the Pyrenees. Having ridden numerous times in the area I had a good idea of just what to expect but the Gite de Etape was going to be a new thing for me. I was stunned at how nice it was once I arrived and knew it wouldn't be the last time I'd visit the place. Our lodging was a beautifully restored building that was once a large barn. What I loved was the fact that though our meals were included we also had the option of using a kitchen in the building if we wanted.

    As you saw in another of Phillipe's pic after we'd cut a ride short due to rain we hit the local Champion Supermarket so we could ride back home and make some lunch. For some reason French grocery stores are an absolute treat for me. My best meals have always come from trips to the store with friends and then cooking a bit. Though as a travel guide I rarely get the chance.

    Phillipe and I each took turns going in and picking out some items that we wanted having a nice lunch of melon,roast chicken, pasta, salad, cheese, bread, and ouf course dessert. Since I like a little protein in the morning I bought some eggs, cheese, and mushrooms so I could have a nice omelette before we rode. If you take a look at the oh-so-flattering pic Phillipe used you'll see my handywork.

    We had some huge rides planned leading up to the Etape and our first big day lasted 7.5 hours and our first big climb was the Spandelle. It was a great reintroduction into just how hard you can work. The view up top was inspiring and the descent would have been better for me had I been less frozen but little did I know it would get worse a few days later.

    After a nice lunch in an area with hills like home we head on for the Aubisque/Soulor. The heat was up at the bottom so Phillipe and I rode our steady tempo hugging the edge of the road for shade only moving out if we saw some beautiful patches of buttery smooth blacktop that dotted the road now and again. Further up a road crew was re-surfacing the whole road and soon the smell brought me close to nausea. With our tires a mess we forged ahead to the top and back home to a well deserved dinner and well earned double helping of dessert.

    pic one Phillipe on the Spandelle in his Spandex
    pic two Massive crap everywhere...watch where you step and pay attention to the size of my shadow compared to that pile!
    pic three On the early slopes of the Aubisque I try and get artsy with the shot
    pic four The blacktop truck of doom...nothing is more confidence inspiring than knowing I'd be descending on tires with fresh tar all over the edges.
    pic five Phillipe practices his "Pantani" on the top of Aubisque/Soulour
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails RBR Get-together TDF 2005 v.2-spandelle_1.jpg   RBR Get-together TDF 2005 v.2-crap.jpg   RBR Get-together TDF 2005 v.2-art_aubisque.jpg   RBR Get-together TDF 2005 v.2-blacktop.jpg   RBR Get-together TDF 2005 v.2-aubisque_top.jpg  

    Last edited by teoteoteo; 09-24-2005 at 06:06 PM.

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