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Any tips for Pyrenean cycle trip?

Written by Fiona

June 23 2010

The Col du Tourmalet, Pyrenees

Earlier this week my guest blogger wrote about a couple of cycling nutters who are off to do the prelude event to the Tour De France, taking in some of the high-rise mountains of the Pyrenees. Well, it seems I’m just as nutty because next week I’m heading to the same place to do some of the same route. I’ll not be tackling the whole thing but the G-Force and I have got it into our heads to try a few of the famous Tour mountains, including the mental Col du Toumalet.

I am part excited and part scared beyond belief! But I have been making some preparations in the vague hope that I’ll manage to get from the bottom to the top of this infamously long, slow and testing mountain climb. First up, I recently managed the Bealach na Ba. Sort of! This mountain pass on the Applecross Peninsula is likened to an Alpine-style road climb and so I’m thinking it might have similarities to the Pyrenees.

Second, I’ve taken advice on my gearing and gone for a new compact chainset that should give me a a couple of easier gears to play with.

I’m also buying a new set of cycle shorts with the kind of padding that the pros swear by. Ie Assos shorts. They are expensive but the apparently do a very comfy job on your lower regions and also last for decades. Surely this will ease some of the pain on the  long, hot mountain climb?

Scary 2115m summit of the Col

I’m planning to carry only the minimum kit and so I’ve shed the usual rucksack for a slightly bigger saddle bag. (The nice holiday organisers will be transferring our main baggage between hotels!) I’ll stuff in a rain jacket, two inner tubes, and some energy bars. And I’ve finally got around to changing an ugly mountain bike handlebar stem for a much lighter and shorter version.

I’ll also have the encouraging companionship of the G-Force, which always helps to drive me onwards. Well, if I don’t keep up he ends up taking photos of me as I almost die trying to reach the mountain’s summit. See previous blog!

But I’m sure there must be a wealth of other things I can do to prepare myself. Does anyone have any suggestions? (Apart from drugs!)

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