Have you ever had a 9.5 hour binge drinking session where you’ve unwittingly consumed more alcohol in that sitting than ever before in your life? And then, you’ve awoken soon after to find your main homeboy cracking open a beer and suggesting that you straight away smash it all over again?
No? Me neither… But, I’m guessing that it must have felt a bit like waking up on Day 7 at our Pyrenean HQ. How the fuck was I going to back that crazy Day 6 shit up? Half a months cHub climbing in a single day? And now my Grimpeurs were shaking with excitement at the prospect of more? As the only retired road racer in the group, I desperately needed a plan to pull myself off/together.
The first thing you need to do is attack the breakfast buffet like you’re a Trump supporter assaulting someone who actually has the nerve to present facts to you.
It wasn’t until the remnants of the third warm croissant were stuck in my beard that someone suggested to me that I had consumed the allotment for the other guests as well… My horror at this shared accom aspect matched only by the terror/disgust in the eyes of my Grimpeur colleagues at my croissant consumption vigour and style.
Today I promise less Rapha style literary wanking, but in its place an increase in the volume of iPhone and Go PRO photos that you’ve already seen a billion times on cyclingnews/Tour de France feed/Instagram/because you’ve fucking been there yourself. It was time to double down on the Pyrenean road pornfest.
First up was more below par tiny coffees and our usual commute down the Big T and the valley of vistas, an excellent way to ease munted legs into yet another big day on tour. This was most likely going to be the 5th day out of 7 over 100km’s, which reinforced that not only were we maximising, but that I was likely to come unglued at some stage.
Blasting out of Argeles-Gazot we were straight into our first course for the day: Col du Soulor.
If you take it from town, then its 19.1km’s at 5% for the 1,018m elevation gain is slightly deceptive, you sort of kick things off with an open climb that then meanders along before a reasonable amount of respite before it gets serious and signposted again. I was instantly dropped (cool), but then flooded with epic volumes of EuroTrash action, most of which were devoid of helmets (uncool as fuck).
We also went straight up the guts too, the D918 towards Arrens, which I think it pretty “main road”, with some intel reports indicating that there are more scenic and quieter options around the traps worth scoping out. For future Dirty Col Hunters, apparently Col des Bordères is a nicer option.
While Matt was excited at the prospect of another day on the front for 5 hours ahead of middle aged bludging cunts, I was basically dog roll on the Soulor… My legs were reminding me that we had gone seriously into overdraft with the Hor spending binge from the day before and backing up for more indulgence was going to be costly.
Not that I was giving too many fucks to be honest, in my head this was the last ride of the trip… The final indulgence of Mega Mon-tons and Hor smashing… The last chance to feast the senses on these insane landscapes as you waded through the history of the area. The Vuelta and TDF usual suspects on these very roads of course.
It was somewhere around here, given how much time I had on my hands to think and considering I had pretty much exhausting the list of everything you can think about the day before, that it occurred to me how much I was loving the Pyrenees vibe. I hadn’t really come here to do a direct comparison with the Alps, but I had heard that you’re either an Alps person or a Pyrenean person.
Why you can’t be both I’m not quite sure, but given my penchant for favouritism, I was starting to lean distinctly towards the Spanish border on this topic. After all, it was lodging a pretty compelling case…
Truth be told, I felt a bit sorry for the Soulor… It was the victim of the hang over situation, the rebound Hor if you like. It was still nice, but after the insane Day 6 it was a bit like coming off an all night bubble bath bender with Scar Jo and Kate Upton and then trying to back that up with a movie & popcorn date with Amy Adams… Still not to be sniffed at, but it wasn’t tattooing “EPIC cunt” on my face.
Not that I had epic anything left in my legs to be fair. I was going so slow that the locals didn’t even notice when I
fingerbanged crawled past them…
If you’re just arriving in town, then the CDS is a good Hor to pop your cherry on, except technically its not really an HC to be honest… More a curious girl next door. The other reason its a bit of a poor cousin is that when you get to this point, everyone is dealing with the elephant in the room that you’re really only there to get to the Aubisque, AKA – ‘The Hot friend’.
Yes, aside from getting your face assaulted with the biggest Fromage Baguette I’ve ever seen a Grimpeur try and eat (gutted I didn’t get a pic), you’re really just passing through the entourage to get to the famous stuff.
From the top of the Soulor up to the summit of the Aubisque is only another 7km’s at 5%, but you’ll ultimately find this to feel a lot easier. Oh, and unless you hate life as a concept in general, then chances are you’ll also find it so scenic that you’ll want to have a scenerygasim and cry all at the same time. Yes, this whole thing was a fucking banger – Real talk:
In fact, the view from the top of the Soulor looking across at the Aubisque is so insane you’ll just stand there and breathlessly mutter “fuuuuuck” like its the first time you didn’t need to assist with a hand job (before you melt down girls, that’s actually a gender agnostic reference if you think it through). And yeah, that line you can see there is the road… The beautiful and mind blowing road…
This place is so amazing that it actually has a built in cunt test – As in, if the people you’re riding with drop the hammer through here and don’t take the near mandatory opportunity to allow their eyeballs to drink in this stunning vista, then they are in fact cunts. Its exceedingly infrequent you get to ride something this unique and well, just straight up stunning.
I was in awe… Granted, a different type of awe from the top of the Tourmalet, but an awe nonetheless. While the Aubisque isn’t as dominating and regal as the Big T, it’s more like the princess who seems oddly hot no matter the occasion. My iPhone was almost melting down at its own inability to capture the mindfuck scenery. Everywhere you look is simply next level… I was still on my way in and I already wanted to come back:
Bearing in mind we had rocked up the day before Stage 14 of the Vuelta was due to finish right in this spot, there was general confusion as to how low key it was… Essentially you’d have no clue that this was less than 24 hours away from being the scene of the final battle of the queen stage of the last Grand Tour of the year.
After the Day 6 summit pic melt down, we were back on form grabbing a pic of our latest Hor conquest, not only managing cheese dick grins but super strong on the kit front as well… That smile belies the fact I was pissed that I forgot to bring some Dirty stickers.
What an awesome place, the Aubisque is clearly a ‘Must do’. I mean, this whole trip had been a never ending avalanche of amazing places, but in terms of a final day it was like everything was in HD. Standing up there doing my best to try and desperately maximise every second I was there, we even briefly toyed with the idea of dropping down the real Aubisque to add both sides to our kill list.
You know its been a big week when the Grimpeurs even frown at such a proposal (they only had so much patience for waiting) and suggest prudence over hairy insanity.
In my OCD planning mind, this was our last Hor of the trip, so I wanted to remain and savour as long as possible, but we had a reasonable mission back to HQ and I had two starved greyhounds to feed, so it was time to get this mega “out and back” rolling again.
Its full cruise mode down the mini part of Aubisque back to the top of the Soulor, the savouring process is an on-going affair, which may test the patience of your group if you’re one of those people that likes to stop a lot to fill up your phone with 18 shots of the same section.
Dirty tip – Yeah, it was around this point that I sort of wished I had booked Accom in the valley, preferably around Argeles-Gazot… And not just because the prospect of climbing back up the valley and 7km’s of the T-Rex seemed alarming at that stage, but also because I had made the strategic blunder of limiting our range and thus precluding that much talked up Col du Spandelles. Put that loop on your list people, would make a mint loop from the top of Soulor as a way back down to Argeles-Gazot.
Thank fuuuuuuuck we doubled down on getting the tail wind back up the valley to the base of the Tourmalet for the final grind up to AT40 Pyrenean HQ. AT and I tapping it out and reflecting on what an absolutely mega week it had been. Any expectations coming in had been brutally assaulted and exceeded and a general sense of euphoria was stepping in to replace fatigue and hunger.
Having said that, one awkward moment when we got back to base and AT once again had the super happy face on, there’s an 18% chance that was connected to the fact that I was the cunt that grabbed the last coke in the shop…
So, not the biggest day ever on tour, but from a backing up perspective more than solid and another famous Hor nailed. I felt slightly disgusted we hadn’t done over 3,000m of climbing, but no one wanted to wait that long to be fair.
- 2,384m climbed
- 5 hour 17 min ride time
I was about to get all “Holy fuck boys, what an incredible week….” on it, but then I heard a mumble from AT… Sorry, what was that? What did I hear you mention there dude?
“A dawn mission up the Tourmalet before heading off?“
Shit was getting cray cray… Surely not… Perhaps it was more dehydration talking? Is enough not enough? Stay tuned to see what the actual fuck is up…