This morning was still damp and the forecast was for rain. Mitch, Danny, Buzz, Spencey and Bluncky took one of the vans and headed off to look at Bairritz and into Spain around San Sebastian. Hori had an opportunity to get a early flight home and see the family, and Rad Man, Jay, Joe, Jordan were going to ride the Tourmalet. Although it was a rest day for the tour, it would still be busy on the mountain with everyone either climbing it on bikes, or else moving their vans onto it to secure a good viewing spot for Fridays big stage.
Everyone first went to the station to make reservations for the train back to Paris on Friday. Jordan and I will take the vans back, which is going to be a challenge as Damo backed into a wall and cracked the rear mudguard, Joe took out the other side, and in our van Bluncky managed to fill the drinking Water tank with Diesel!!! Our excess is gone for all money now!
Our little group of 5 rolled out around 10am, stopping at the train station so Joe could reserve his train. A Sth African bloke on a bike started talking to us and he wanted to know where the Tourmalet was. We told him he could follow us if he could keep up. I asked him what he was up to and he said that he was travelling taking in as many sporting events he could. He had been to the British Open Golf, Wimbledon, an Indy car race in the US and now the Tour. Good luck to him.
We headed on a 110k loop with 2000m of climbing. The first section was a little undulating 30k to Bagneres, d'Borrigne, a small town over in the next valley. We stopped there for Coffee, Croissant, Pain de Raisons and for Jordan (his dad loves them apparently) a vanilla slice the size of a housebrick. All the food we have had on this trip has been excellent. The quality, freshness and cost is first class. No wonder everyone looks so fit and healthy. 2 coffees each and we were on our way. We split up on the climb, as Damo set an early pace up a very long steep climb. A pace that he would be made to suffer for later on up the mountain. There were people everywhere on the mountain. For tomorrow's stage, the papers are estimating there will be 300,000 people, a huge crowd.
Damo and I waited at the top of the Tourmalet for everyone. As we did we started talking to a Dutch fan who has followed the Giro, Veulta and now the Tour all the way, and he hasn't missed a day.
We did the descent off the Tourmalet with care, as there were so many cyclists and tourists around. We got to the bottom and had a nice lunch of quiche and toasted sandwiched. We hammered back to Lourdes 35k away as we could see the rain coming. It is a great road, one of the best section of sweeping downhill you will ever get the chance to ride. We got back to Lourdes and just as we entered the main street, it started raining. It hasn't stopped since, so tomorrow will be a day off the bikes as non of us are keen to sit on a freezing cold for 4 hours sitting on a mtn
We had an early dinner while we waited for the others to bring the others back. In bed now listening to the rain on the van roof. Danny,Mitch and Spencey grabbed a room at a hotel down the road so they don't get swamped in their tent.
So a big day at the tour, but we might watch it locally as non of us are keen to ride in the wet
All the best,
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