Thursday, September 5, 2013

Stage 5 - Time Trial up Hautacam


Time Trial: 16km (13 timed)
Elevation: 1088m

This stage had been haunting me right from the time I heard about it. Not helped by Con, a DHBC member who has ridden Hautacam and is a way better climber than me, telling me ages ago "It's the hardest climb I've ever done!"  Right then, something to worry about.

But it also was billed as a "rest day."  How could that be?

Hmm, maybe there's a plot here.   That's it!  Those of strategically hanging around the back of the race (i.e. close to cut-off) got to go first as the slowest riders.  The fast guys all went progessively later.

So at 9:06am I was in the TT house, being held ... for a 2.8km untimed section.  What exactly is the point of that?  But for many it seemed to be an experience they hadn't had before.  So maybe it was part of the experience.

In any case, it was hard - but not that hard.  It was a hard as you wanted to make it I guess.  Sure there were some parts over 12% and I think a few pinches much more.  But all the pain was in the lower two thirds.  And it was cool and still at that time, but heating up quickly.

I told 2 blokes I knew who were starting very closely after me that they shouldn't overtake me or I'd cry.  Both of them took it as a challenge and eventually passed me.  I guess I gave them a target. :-)

I didn't go much above 80% of max HR.  I was looking forward to finishing and having a day off the bike I have to confess, but not really racing like I would if I was, well, racing.

BTW My skinsuit is still in my suitcase.  Apparently you don't wear them climbing mountains in TTs.  Who knew?

Passed some friendly horses standing impassively on the road about 3km from the top. Still there when I descended about half an hour later, some cyclists had stopped to pat them and the TTers were still coming up the hill.  Got a bit congested at that point.  But what a view!

The good news is I did better in this than I had in previous stages and was 23rd out of 33 women.   The fastest woman did it in 53 minutes, I did it in 78 minutes.  Slowest in 101 minutes.  So pretty pleased with that.

With the afternoon off, we headed off for leisurely lunch at a traditional French "farmhouse" restaurant also half way up Hautacam.  I got to eat a great omelette and a potato fry up kind of thing.  Excellent!

Even better, we are here for two nights in a small village a short 5km ride down the bike path from Argeles-Gazost.  It's a rail trail and nicely flat.   If you kept going, past Argeles you end up in Lourdes. 

I'm thinking a quick visit to Lourdes and a healing dip will fix my saddle soreness - right?  

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