The next stop was the Pyrennees. The weather was beautiful in the middle of the day, but cold up high, and morning and evening. I used all the warm clothes I had been thinking I could have left behind.
Mostly, however, I was wearing warm cycling clothes.
On the first day, we rode into Arreau
The hotel was fine, and they made a great, and much appreciated, effort to feed the vegetarian (Scrambled eggs with pasta might be unusual, but at least it contains protein!)
The talk was all about climbing, training for climbing, recovering from climbing, how we, personally, had trained for climbing. I was feeling quite nervous, and would have reserved a spot in the support car, but the roads on which we would be riding were already closed to motor vehicles.
The next day, we rode up the Col D'Aspin (not as difficult as I had expected), then waited on the side of the mountain to watch the caravan and the tour. I waited about 3K from the top, and had fantastic views of the riders.
I could see the riders on the road below about 20 minutes before they came past me. It was very cool to be above the helicopters!
The next day was huge. We rode 150k or so, past Lourdes, through the valleys,
then the incredibly long climb up the Col Tourmalet
and down the other side, through mist and sleet.
This was an amazing experience. It was the Tour rest day, but there were hundreds of cyclists climing the mountain), and thousands of spectators camping out in anticipation of watching the Tour climb up the next day.
Whilst waiting at the bottom of the Tourmalet for the van to drive us back to Arreau, we visited an exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Tourmalet climb in the Tour de France.
This amazed me. Between 1910 and 1914, there was a woman cyclist, Marthe Henne, who beat all the men up the Tourmalet in every organized race in which she competed (she was not allowed in the tour)- wearing the garments pictured. I pointed this out to the men who had beaten me up the Tourmalet.