06.15 alarm..or would be alarm if my battery wasn't buggered on my phone. Am sometimes very glad of my body clock which wakes me early when things like that happen.
07.00 ish breakie. Its misty any damp outside and todays riding is a toughie (aubisque and the tourmalet) but people are strangely calm and fine about it.
By 08.00 all riders had set off in their waterproof. We had a little while to flaff with the vans. The other day I found a parcel for a client from my last trip that didn't reach cerbere in time. I told HQ and they came back today to say it wasn't worth sending back and to open it as it was a bit of fun...very exciting as I love a pressie! And it was a bit like a 'pass the parcel' parcel...first layer the brown out side packaging, then a shoe box, inside that the top layer was pretty wrapping paper and a congratulations note, some tissue, then some party poppers, more tissue..then the piece de resistance! A pair of black y fronts with red trimming and a bike horn attached to the front! They are awesome...I just now have to have a think how best to 'use' these..maybe put them on the marmot?!
For a few mins along a valley before laruns the sun looked like it might make an appearance.. There was the quite strange sight of the sky and the mountains covered by low cloud but in some place somehow the sun had got through.
I am in Shadowfax today and so am the front van. Got to Laruns first and parked up at the bottom of the Aubisque. Cake and snacks out at the ready. First to fly by was the tandem which is absolutely storming. Ten mins later the three guys who set off early, then G not far behind in Frodo...who he has managed to break already! He's only been driving him for an hour!!! Poor Frodo. Once the clients left we had to ponder the bags..we had 6 clients to come, the 3 just ahead, and the two fasties on the tandem..all in all about a 45min plus spread across them. Not good for us as thats quite hard to support. So after so umming and ahhing we shifted the day bags around to the vans which we agreed could support each group best. Hopefully it will work out. Its quite a complicated day for the vans as I have to leave after Argeles (at the bottom of the Aubisque and Soulour) to go around the Tourmalet, to the hotel to unload and then up the other side hopefully getting to the col before the clients...meanwhile G supports the whole group as they are ascending. As last trip had a detour rather than this route this is my first time trying to 'do it properly'. Fingers crossed.
As I passed the tandem near the half way mark they were both out of the saddle..uber respect for them as they are both so strong riders and must be incredibly coordinated and know each other so well to make it work. They are a lovely couple too, you can usually hear them coning before you can see them as they chatter away constantly. Bless.
Temperature on the Aubisque is dropping very rapidly, very misty and damp with a cold breeze. Gonna be very important to get the support right. Visibility is very low, little bit worrying and a shame that the riders will not be able to see the view. On the plus side the bad weather means less people and cars about.
The road between the Aubisque and the Soulour is one of my favourites..it's an amazing piece of road. I have not cycled it but even in the van it's awesome..basically they decided to have a road connecting the two cols and just chiselled the road out of the side of the mountain. Even in the mist it is impressive in fact may be more so as it adds an air of mystery to it.
Down to Argeles, and straight on to Lourdes then Aste and the hotel. Down side to speedy people is that I arrived at the hotel before they were ready so just left the bags in the lobby. Trip to cycle shop to get that wheel fixed and a new cable...shut for lunch. Sigh. Nothing else to do aside from head up the mountain and wait for the tandem and sort the other bits out when I come back down.
Thickest fog yet on the Tourmalet and boy was it cold and damp. Could not see a thing. Even the brave cyclists heading up would only be visible a few metres ahead of me. Waiting for a while at the top for the tandem. May not have a view of more than a few feet but great spot for people watching. My fave being the cyclist with a tux and dickie bow jersey.
15.45ish Once the tandem came up I headed back down the mountain, the others were so close together G could manage them. If going uphill in thick fog was has, going down was worse. Visibility was a couple of metres in front (if that), and the same to the side..where you know it is a sheer drop. Added excitement of animals being all over the place around the road. About half way down you I came out of the cloud and into the rain. Headed to the bike shop to get broken spoke fixed, then back to the hotel to put the bags in the clients rooms. Just done when the tandem came in. Welcomed them and sorted them out then back to the bike shop to pick up the wheel and then onto the supermarket for a few bits. The others were slowly arriving by this stage..some in the van due to the torrential rain and cold on the descent.
20.00 dins and tomorrows briefing. Had a momentary wash of tiredness in dinner and nearly fell asleap right there and then. Just before my part in the talk too..awesome timing. Thankfully not much 'homework' today aside from charging the bike lights.
22.00 all done in the vans, so bed and finishing writing this..(have found it easier to write during the days in the lulls waiting for clients rather than in one go). No WiFi here so will be a day delayed post. Tis a lovely place..family run hotel..but say if you ask about the weather their first thought is to look in the newspaper. So it is not the most modern. Bit the people are lovely and friendly and remember us. The bar man is awesome...he helped me the other week when we had a banana drama..ie we ran out and I was trying to rush around and find somewhere open at 7pm selling them...no 24hr supermarkets here. He helped me bless him and today when he first saw me I was shifting bananas between the vans so he loved that..we will be forever bonded over the banana crisis. No stalker here this time..so so far so good.