Stage 12: Pau to Peyragudes

Cycling summary

Breakfast: 06:30 Transfer: none. Start time: 07:30. Distance: 214.5km. Terrain: mountains (4,500 metres climbing). Climbs: one HC (Port de Balès), two Cat 1, two Cat 2, one Cat 4. Finish: 20:50 Time in saddle: 11h15.

Suffer scores: John 8/10, Alex 8/10.

Local lowdown

Apparently there’s a short cut to miss out one of the climbs if so desired. No chance! This will be my third ascent up the Peyresourde and the main thing I remember is the snack bar at the top where there is the chance of a cheeky beer, being close to the end of the ride. But we will still have one more short climb to go though, so that may have to wait.

Tale from the Tour

This was a great day out and indeed a late finish, but there was a chance for a refreshing beer with dinner! It had started with more busy and uninteresting roads at first and we wonder how TV commentators will cope with some sections of the Tour now that the whole thing is being shown live.

During that first section, I had the opportunity to ride with next year’s ride leader, Emily Chappell, of Transcontinental renown. That’s a 4,000km single race from Belgium to Greece where the riders plot the route themselves passing through certain specified check points and it is entirely unsupported. Unlike the Tour de France which is essentially a series of races, any time spent sleeping or eating is time you are off your bike and not racing, so it really is hardcore and worthy of much respect.

Good luck and finish well on the London-Edinburgh-London ride Hugh – from Emily

We were soon into the foothills of the Pyrenees and there was a great air of tranquillity, seeing the mountains looming in the background, hearing the streams gently meandering down and spotting  the first signs of snow.




Being up in the mountains is simply glorious even if we have to work hard to get there. It was hot again today, but 25 degrees was OK and sometimes when rounding the bends we were met with a refreshing mountain breeze which was wonderful. I got through loads of water today, using my new bottles because the ones I had brought out with me were now beyond cleaning and I don’t want to get sick.

Today we had the fourth of only 7 HC climbs on the tour with the Port de Balès. This was long, but arguably the previous Cat 1, the Col de Mente, was tougher. Certainly I had been completely drenched in sweat by the end of that one and was pouring cold water on my head to cool down. Had to make sure it was not the bottle with the energy drink in it though, as that would have been a sticky mess and maybe attracted more insects than were already showing interest.

The end looms into view

Sufferwise, this was not as bad as Stage 9 because the steepness was not so sharp. It was still probably the third toughest stage on this year’s route I think. Alex and I finished more or less together, though we did yo-yo a bit what with stopping to take photos too. That’s all part of the Tour de Force experience as far as I’m concerned.

And now a sneak preview of tomorrow. Here’s the view that greeted us when we pulled back the curtains this morning:

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