29 June 2006

Epic France — Day 4

Hautacam, Col du Soulor

Today we started with a 6:15 departure to drive to the pool again in Lourdes. Some people did go for the I.M. set for an extra point, come went for the 6km swim extra point and Gordo went for both. Gordo got a bit of a chuckle when super vet Frenchman Yves Tauberaunt (11th over-all in Nice in ’05) said something like “You must really be a good runner” after watching him swim – meaning he must be coming from waaaay behind to place so well if he swims that slow.!

I took a nap in the van after my 3km. After a snack we drove to the lake in Lourdes where we swam yesterday but this time we went there to run. Yves led us on a nice loop of the lake. That old dude can run! We all did about 50 minutes at varying speeds and then some of us went to the local bike shop for a bit of shopping. I was happy to be shopping here out of season to get a bit of nice winter gear on sale. Gary Burgess, John Newsom and I still have 3 months of winter to look forward to when we return to N.Z. Young Colm Cassidy got a whole new kit! So was looking pretty good on our ride later. CSC jerseys seem to be the most sought after item among our crew. All together I think we dropped about 2,000 Euro in that shop. The shop owner asked if we would be dropping in again before we left town…..

After driving back up the mountain for lunch we headed out on the bikes at 1:30 for Hautacam. On the way down Michael Peters hit the pavement and skidded pretty hard. He was OK but there wasn’t much left of his bike shorts.

We re-grouped at the bottom of the descent before heading over to Hautacam. The climb is almost identical to Luz Ardiden but there is another col you can continue onto if you’d like to. We did 13km at 8-10% incline. Mike Montgomery got the KOM in convincing fashion with G-man just keeping me at bay by about 30 seconds! I’m sure it was a bit silly to go that hard with a massive ride on tap for tomorrow but I definitely felt a lot better climbing today. Hopefully that trend will continue. Besides – I like to give the G-Man a bit of a push now and then. He needs it!

The bottom ½ of the climb was quite warm before we hit the misty clouds again. Ian met us at the top with food and drinks and then we bolted down the mountain, the short way back to Argeles-Gazost and then back up to the Col du Soulor again. All up it was 75km and about 7,000ft. of vertical gain. Some people went back up the Abisque again! To get 90 km for an extra point. That was very staunch. Glad to be finished with my run early today.

We had a nice lasagna for dinner tonight and I think most people will opt for an early night. Not every one is sleeping great on the camp which is normal. Michael Peters moved to the couch downstairs during the night and said my snoring was one of the main reasons. I think he must have been a bit too tired to and dreamt it. I don’t snore! J but sharing a room with 4 guys can get a bit stuffy to say the least. I saw Dr. J on another couch when I came down early for coffee at 5am.

Tonight is our last night here and its been very nice to have the whole place to ourselves. Tomorrow is a long day. We begin at 6:30 with a 50 minute run, followed by breakfast, pack up and head out on the bikes towards St. Gaudens at 8:30am.