Showing all posts tagged my2010tdf:

Stage 16 - Bagneres de Luchon to Pau - 196km

The comment of Christian Prudhomme

We will follow in the wake of Eddy Merckx on this arduous succession of mountain climbs: Peyresourde-Aspin-Tourmalet-Aubisque. In 1969, in the famed stage that finished in Mourenx, Merckx waltzed away in an epic solo ride that went down in the annals of Tour history. He annihilated all contenders in the first of his five Tour victories. As often in the past, it is in Pau that riders will enjoy their second rest day.

To see an interactive map and explore the stage with Google Street View click here.

Stage 15

Well today was my birthday and quite a birthday is has been and lovely to receive lots of good wishes from home. Another very hard day in the saddle, I always knew the Pyrenees were going to be a tough nut to crack and so it is proving to be. Today's ride took in the gruesome ascent of the Port de Bales which featured as the 2007 Etape du Tour and I believe also caused many problems for the riders then, hardly surprising, it's grim.

Getting tired now and am well and truly ready for the rest day. Tomorrow is another extremely difficult day with two HC ascents and 2 Category 1 ascents and it is going to be a matter of just trying to get through it no matter how long it takes. I think it's going to be around 12 hours in my fatigued state.

Some lovely scenery in the earlier part of the day when it was sunny but couldn't see a thing from the high point of the day, the Port de Bales, as there was thick fog. The descent was absolutely freezing and I was really glad to get to the bottom and get the recovery started. SKINS RY400 compression gear on, high carbohydrate dinner with some protein, and then some sleep but as always not enough of it.

This has certainly been an unusual birthday but one where I do feel that I have achieved something. It is of course nice to spend one's birthday with loved ones but that was not to be the case this year, celebrations are on hold in the hope that I will complete this adventure safely.

Signing off now to get some rest, thank you for checking in wherever you are.

Photographs from Today:

View towards the Pyrenees from the route of The Tour.
Superb naturally formed cavern that now carries a road.
Village climbing towards the Col de Portet d'Aspet.
Memorial to Fabio Casartelli.

Today's Weather:

Very hot this morning but then clouded over. Thick cold fog on the upper parts of the Port de Bales, freezing cold and wet descent :-(

Ride Time: 11:20 hh:mm
Work Done: 4291kJ
Training Stress Score: 295
Intensity Factor: 0.554
Normalised Power: 169W
Variability Index: 1.36
Ride Distance: 115 miles
Elevation Gain: About 12000feet
Maximum Power: 501W
Average Power: 124W
Average Heart Rate: 111bpm
Average Speed - True: 10.2mph
Acute Training Load: 246.8
Chronic Training Load: 145.5
Training Stress Balance: -99

Stage 15 - Pamiers to Bagneres de Luchon - 187km

The comment of Christian Prudhomme

This stage will run from Ariège to Haute-Garonne and from Pamiers, a Tour first, to Bagnères-de-Luchon. Under its former name of Luchon, the town was the finish of the very first stage through the Pyrenees in 1910, after notably crossing the Portet d’Aspet and Ares mountain passes. Additionally this year: the daunting spectre of the Port de Balès, climbed only once before in 2007.

To see an interactive map and explore the stage with Google Street View click here.

Stage 14

Today's stage was hard, very hard, and hot, very hot. The hors category ascent of the Port de Pailheres was described in the programme as "gruelling" – by the end of it I felt well and truly "gruelled". That climb done the fun and games of the category one climb to Ax 3 Domaines was the real icing on the cake with some very steep pitches to deal with, this was no picnic. Well, if it was a picnic I've just gone off picnics completely.

Mentally now I have decided that the best way to approach these climbs is definitely steadily and to fix in my mind that the top is not moving. Based on this as the top is static if I am still moving the end is sure to come, eventually :-)

After the finish there was a long drive to our hotel in Pamiers but at least this will mean that we should get a good start in the morning, for another very challenging day.

I remain very pleased with how my recovery strategy, particularly the use of the SKINS RY400 compression clothing is helping me keep going. I'm not sure how I would feel if I stopped using these products but I've definitely reached the point where I would not consider not bothering to wear them. I'm sure there would be a marked deterioration in my morning recovery status if I did stop bothering to put them on each night. It's noticeable even without looking hard into the data that so far on the Tour de Velo I am managing to maintain my power generating capacity even riding at a controlled intensity, and this is down to effective recovery.

Took a call around midday from BBC Radio Newcastle and it was great to be in the middle of The Pyrenees and being asked live on air how things were going. It's terrific feeling that people are interested in what I am trying to do and if just one person decides that they can change their life and have a crack at something a bit challenging and different that will be a real result as far as I am concerned. I believe The BBC want to get in touch again when I am further along my journey which will be smashing, just hope everything continues to pan out Ok here, I'm trying not to think too far ahead, I don't want to tempt fate.

Anyway, another very challenging day ahead tomorrow, steady away will be the plan, it's worked so far and I'm not changing it now. Thank you once again for dropping in and for your messages of support, they make one heck of a difference.

Photographs from Today:

Sunflower fields soon after the departure from Revel.
Scenery just past Chalabre, this was where the BBC Radio Newcastle interview was done!
Horses blocking the road on the hors category Port de Pailheres climb.
Ax-Les-Thermes in the evening sun from the climb to Ax 3 Domaines.

Today's Weather:

Lovely morning but very hot in the afternoon, 30 degrees again, which was of course when all the climbing had to be done.

Ride Time: 11:34 hh:mm
Work Done: 4695kJ
Training Stress Score: 325
Intensity Factor: 0.579
Normalised Power: 177W
Variability Index: 1.31
Ride Distance: 116 miles
Elevation Gain: About 14,000 feet
Maximum Power: 683W
Average Power: 134W
Average Heart Rate: 115bpm
Average Speed - True: 10.1mph
Acute Training Load: 240.8
Chronic Training Load: 141.8
Training Stress Balance: -92.8

Stage 14 - Revel to Ax 3 Domaines - 184km

The comment of Christian Prudhomme

1910-2010. The celebrations in honour of the hundredth anniversary of the Tour’s first foray into the Pyrenees will be the highlight of this 97th edition of the race. A novelty in the first of the four Pyrenean stages: two “modern" as an alternative to “historical" climbs will be tackled as the gruelling Port de Pailhères and Plateau de Bonascre in Ax-3 Domaines were not included on the race itinerary before the 21st century.

To see an interactive map and explore the stage with Google Street View click here.

Stage 13 - Rodez to Revel - 195km

The comment of Christian Prudhomme

After the start launched from Rodez, in Aveyron, and a few warm up climbs, the race will move to the Tarn valley and then head for the Lauragais and the Black Mountain. The ultimate challenge will be located in Saint-Ferréol, famous for its lake and… its hill climb. Just six kilometres from the finish in Revel, this climb could prove decisive in the final struggle for stage victory.

To see an interactive map and explore the stage with Google Street View click here.

Stage 12

Today's was the third longest stage of The Tour and I covered just under 130 miles over what the tour book calls a "medium mountain" stage, medium mountains indeed!

This was a very hard and long day but I was pleased with how I seemed to have recovered from the previous day after a night swathed in my SKINS RY400 recovery gear, in spite of the bedroom being like an oven.

The scenery today, particularly for the first half of the ride, was beautiful and again this is an area well worth spending some more time in in a more leisurely way at some point in the future. As Arnie said "I'll be back"

As the ride wore on the terrain really became very rolling which sapped the energy and to add to the entertainment I was faced with a very significant headwind which meant I was having to work pretty hard even on some of the downhill sections which was not what I wanted at all!

Finally arrived in Mende but that was not the whole story. To complete the stage properly I them had to ride the 3km of the Montee Laurent Jalabert at an average gradient of 10% but much steeper in many places. With almost 130 miles already done over difficult terrain this was a matter of willpower as I had to ride past my hotel to the foot of the climb, talk about temptation.

Anyhow, I struggled up and the top finally came and I then had to ride back down the descent to the hotel for a late, but very nice, dinner. Tired again tonight but I'm pleased with how I coped with this stage after yesterday's difficulties.

Oh yes, in 3 days time a certain Lance Armstrong will be staying in this hotel, I hope the proprietor tells him I got here first! ;-)

Photographs from Today:

Rural sundial inscribed "Carpe Diem" – how very appropriate.
Col des Nonieres scenery.
The tour is coming, long live The Tour!
Arrival at Mende Aerodrome after climbing the Montee Laurent Jalabert. After almost 130 miles 3km at an average of 10% almost finished me, but not quite.

Today's Weather:

Not quite as hot, more bearable, but still 28-30 degrees. Clear skies all day, I'm praying for clouds!

Ride Time: 11:05 hh:mm
Work Done: 4771 kJ
Training Stress Score: 320
Intensity Factor: 0.562
Normalised Power: 171W
Variability Index: 1.31
Ride Distance: 129 miles
Elevation Gain: about 11,000 feet
Maximum Power: 486W
Average Power: 130W
Average Heart Rate: 116bpm
Average Speed - True: 11.6mph
Acute Training Load: 227.3
Chronic Training Load: 134.5
Training Stress Balance: -85.7

Stage 12 - Bourg de Peage to Mende - 210km

The comment of Christian Prudhomme

Drôme again and Bourg again with Bourg-de-Péage, also making its début appearance on the map of the Tour de France. Ardèche will then be crossed from east to west with, notably, the main challenge of the day, the Suc de Montivernoux. The Croix Neuve hill climb, the Jalabert Climb, as it has been renamed, will precede the finish on the runway of the Mende airfield.

To see an interactive map and explore the stage with Google Street View click here.

Stage 11 - Sisteron to Bourg Les Valence - 180km

The comment of Christian Prudhomme

A 100 % first time stage. Sisteron and Bourg-lès-Valence have never before played host to the Tour. The stage start from Sisteron, in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, towered over by its famous citadel, will finish in the neighbouring county of Drôme. With the exception of the Cabre pass, there will be no major challenges and racers - sprinters should shine among the frontrunners in this stage.

To see an interactive map and explore the stage with Google Street View click here.

Stage 10

Stage 10 completed and it's been another very long, extremely hot, and very challenging day, hopefully tomorrow will be a little less draining but in the end it will be what it will be.

I think I'm getting an excellent recovery result after these very hot days from the SKINS ICE recovery gear which I find extremely comfortable overnight. It's hard to really nail down where benefits come from when there are so many possible factors involved. However, there is no escaping the fact that after wearing them I do seem to be far better recovered that I would otherwise be and I don't seem to have the dreaded dead-legged feeling in the morning that I've had in the past. So, on the evidence so far this product has a big thumbs up from me and I'll be continuing to use it.

The category 1 Cote de Laffrey climb this morning was truly ghastly. For one thing the average gradient was 9%, for another thing the climb was an unrelenting 7 kilometres long, and finally it was in full sun throughout at around 33-35 degrees. I have never sweated so much on a bike as I have so far on this ride, the heat has been utterly relentless.

The highest climb of the day was the Col du Noyer which was incredibly beautiful but again horribly hot, again the tar was melting on the road. The views from the start of the descent were spectacular and the upper part of the descent looked mildly terrifying but I took my time, no heroics, and got to the bottom safely. I want to visit this area again in a more relaxed way with Lorena, she would love it here.

Well, another hard stage done and am hoping for a little respite tomorrow, I seem so far to be holding up pretty well all things considered so I'm going to keep on doing what I'm doing in terms of riding (keeping the wattage low), recovery (SKINS gear and a good diet), and hydration (drink all the time).

Thank you again for visiting, more fun tomorrow.

Photographs from Today:

Do I really look that bad?
View from the Col du Noyer
Col du Noyer ascent, surrounding scenery.
General scene from mid ride.

Today's Weather:

Very hot again, around 33-35 degrees. Very little breeze, heat very debilitating.

Ride Time: 10:29 hh:mm
Work Done: 4195kJ
Training Stress Score: 315
Intensity Factor: 0.583
Normalised Power: 178W
Variability Index: 1.42
Ride Distance: 109.4 miles
Elevation Gain: About 10,000 feet
Maximum Power: 637W
Average Power: 126W
Average Heart Rate: 118bpm
Average Speed - True: 10.4mph
Acute Training Load: 218.3
Chronic Training Load: 128.4
Training Stress Balance: -82.4