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Col Climbing In France 2003 - Aubisque

by Adam Tranter

Col D'Aubisque
Col Du Solour

I camped in Larru south of Lourdes to tackle the west side, the famous Tour De France climb of the Col D'Aubisque. The climb of the Aubisque is 16.5 km at an average of 7.5pc. With 7kms gone there was a couple of hundred metres of 13pc. There is a French saying that goes 'if the gradient doesnt get you, the distance will,and if the distance doesnt get you, then the temperature will. After climbing to about 1000m, the trees disappear and there is no shade. Today was really sunny and very hot at around 35C. The heat also reflects of the road, its like being in an oven and this affected my ability. I could just about push 200 Watts and was really suffering. I had loads of water on board, but I had to use this on my head and neck to cool me down. Luckily there were quite a few mountain streams and stopped and filled them up. Heat stroke or dehydration up at this altitude probably isnt much fun.

Col D'Abisque

I climbed all the way to the top at 1750m and then dropped down 600m over 6kms and climbed up 2kms to the Col Du Soluor at 1450m. A couple of small tunnels added to the amusment including all the writing on the road. I saw 'Allez JaJa', 'Virenoque c'est magnifique' It was only when I headed back, as you can see in the pictures, that on the outside edge of the road, there was only a 1 foot high wall or marker stones and then a 600m sheer drops ! One false move here and your a gonner. Hence to say I went back to the top of the Aubisque on the left hand side, the wrong side of the road as best as I could !

Thames Velo Van on Col D'Abisque

The descent back to Larru was great fun, wide sweeping road doing 50mph in places. I caught and passed every vehicle going down and at the bottom I stopped before turning off to the campsite, most of the drivers slowed down and looked at me in amazement. I even overtook a guy on a motorbike on the decent. The campsites in France are absolutely excellent, washing machines, pools, showers, cafe and bar, all shaded pitches and all for 12 euros a night, thats about 8 pounds ! Handy tip, let some air out of your tyres at this altitude, as they can increase in pressure. I only put 80psi in. I met a guy from Hinkley cycling club in Leicestershire at the top who blew a tube and tyre for no reason until he told me he had 110psi ...

Thames Velo Van on Col D'Abisque




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