Arrival day

An impressive piece of ancient history, with Mont St Michel in the background!

What a difference a day makes. Today I am in Europe unlike the UK which has voted to leave. I say no more other than Wales want out of Europe and Northern Ireland want in. We will see how that plays out in Euro 2016 tomorrow.

An uneventful travel day thankfully, unlike the travel chaos in the South East yesterday and another air traffic control stroke in France then too. I did not need to resort to Plan B and head for a ferry.

I am hoping that the internet will behave so that I can share my experiences each day. Certainly I shall write something up, but the reports may get posted late and/or at odd hours.

Rode a little prologue with Gary just now to the magnificent Mont St Michel and then had a cheeky little beer in one of the bars that is decorated ready for  the tour proper next week.

A little bit of jargon-busting

The Tour de France spends a considerable amount of time in the mountains. This year it’s not just the Alps and the Pyrenees, but also the Massif Central in central France (surprise!) and Mont Ventoux in Provence. But not all the climbs are mountains of course as there is a fair smattering of smaller stuff. For those not close to cycling jargon, the climbs are categorised from 1 to 4, where 4 is the easiest. Then there are those climbs that are so tough that they are categorised as HC, or “Hors Categorie”, i.e. beyond hard (or to employ the overused cycling word, they are super hard). I’ll be referring to these categorisations in my reports so they bear some explanation.

There seems to be no hard and fast rules about categorisation. The comment that you typically hear is that the categorisation of the climb tallies with the gear that you have to select if you are going to be able to drive up it in that most iconic of French cars, the Deux Chevaux (2CV)! There’s quite possibly some truth in that, but in any event that notion helps you to get your head round it a bit.

I have also heard that it is not just the length of the climb and the steepness that counts, but the organisers also take into consideration the point at which a climb features in the day’s stage. So for example a particular climb might be category 1 if taken in isolation, but if it comes after the end of a long and tough day it could potentially be marked as HC instead. So it seems to be a mixture of art and science.

You will see that even the early flat stages have some climbs in them, but it’s all short, punchy stuff and not more than a category 3 or 4. By the time we get to the high mountains in the Pyrenees, we are looking at climbs of 10-20km with average gradients up to 8 or 9% and with some steep ramps that will exceed 10%.

Anyway, that’s enough of that and I will try and stay jargon-free.

Time to go for our briefing for tomorrow soon.




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