Yesterday I rode L’Etape du Tour – one word to describe it would be “Brutal”.
Over 8000 cyclists (they originally said 10,000) took part; we rode Stage 16 of this year’s Tour de France route (which takes place this Wednesday) – Pau to Bagneres de Luchon.
The weather turned on us before we started our first “Col” and became worse as we made our way to the finish line. Rain, wind and fog made the event a difficult one indeed.
Over 55% of the riders did not finish (a record I’m told) – they succumbed to the elements and the difficulty of this route (5 Cols, - 2 HC and 3 Cat 1).
I started with bib number 4629 and finished 750th – 8hr,57min,20sec. We climbed 5214 m and cycled a distance of 201 kms.
Just to finish this event was an achievement as there were certainly a few times when I asked myself “why am I doing this” as I couldn’t feel my fingers as I tried to brake for a tight bend coming down the mountain.
The crowds were amazing – it was Bastille Day, pissing rain and they were standing on the side of the road cheering you on (at the top of one Col there were so many people that they parted the way for you as went through – I felt like the pros for a couple of seconds).
The finish line arrived; I stepped off the bike and felt great – cold and wet but great - this was “Brutal” but well worth it (the first beer didn’t touch the sides).
L’Etape du Tour 2012 – “Brutal” but what an achievement…
Up next; The Haute Route - Geneva to Nice, Aug. 19-26