Saturday, November 17, 2012

France 2012 Part Three

The second day of cycling on my France 2012 trip featured two climbs that aren't very famous. They are just big climbs like you can find anywhere in the Pyrenees. The roads are so small that they can't be used for a big event like the Tour. On the way up on these small climbs you always run into tiny villages that have been there forever. These villages are shuttered during the week and have people in them during the weekends. They are country retreats for people who live two hours away in Toulouse - and bustle a bit more during ski season.

Most of these towns are just names - nothing really happens there, there is no mail delivery or any businesses. I was speaking with one of my trip mates, who lives in France for part of the year. I asked him about the little towns and he gave me the above information. He asked me if I knew how to tell when a town was "dead" in France - I didn't know and he told me that you can tell a town is dead when it no longer has a bakery. This made sense - folks in this part of France love their bread.

 The first climb was to Lercoul. It is one of these "dead" towns way up high. I was the first one up to the top and it felt great. It was pretty hot this day. On the way, we passed Siguer.  When you leave a town in France, they have a sign with the city crossed out with a red stripe.  Sort of different.  Here is my Serotta Fierte IT that has taken me over so many mountains and tens of thousands of miles.
All of these places are picturesque.
Yours truly on the way up.
And here is Lercoul. This is pretty much the whole town - a church, and twenty or thirty other buildings. Probably been here in some form or another for thousands of years.
We then descended from Lercoul and went up to the ski resort at Goulier. Nice views.
The road to Goulier was absolutely brutal and we had to dismount a few times and do some cyclocross action to make it to the ski resort. That climb is a tough one, too. I would rate it a cat 1 or HC. This wasn't the most welcome thing for me as I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me tomorrow with Plateau de Beille on the menu, but oh well, I was in France to cycle.

The descent from Goulier was harrowing and I almost ate it a few times but made it OK. One of the guys I was with ate it but he was just scraped up a bit.

Before I get to the ride data, a slight sidebar. I bought myself a Garmin 500 with the heartrate and cadence attachments and I absolutely love it. It just works.  The cool part is that you can share your rides with others and view your rides from above - with this one you can see how the roads switchback over and over as you ascend the mountain.  Here is a link to this ride.

Ride data for the day:
Total ride time: three hours eight minutes
Total milage: 29.6
Average Speed: 9.4 mph
Total ascent: 4449 feet
Max Speed: 37 mph
Average cadence: 74 rpm
Average heart rate: 124 beats per minute
Max heart rate: 159 beats per minute


Carl from Chicago said...

That Garmin readout of your race was awesome.

If you showed that technology to someone even 20 years ago they'd think you were a secret agent.

Great photos of France too.

Dan from Madison said...

Not actually a race - this was just one of our daily rides.