Col d Agnes
I planned to ride the Col d Agnes yesterday after the Port-de-Lers, but the low cloud base scuppered those plans. Today, however, the weather and the apps agreed that today would be a good day.
The Col d’ Agnes and Col de Latrape climbs conveniently start from nearby Aulus-les-Bains, so off I go.
Such was my first shock of the day with the sub 20º temperature that I even debated arm warmers.
I told myself it was time to stop being a wuss and start being a brave little soldier.
The town was slowly coming to life as people called into the local boulangerie. They didn’t seem bothered by a cyclist changing in the car park, so I guess it was an everyday occurrence.
By the boulangerie, where the river flowed, the senior locals gathered by a bench to smoke and put the world to rights.
The sight of Brompton and a stranger in town saying Bonjour caused a moment’s hesitation in their debates, but they politely waved and replied.
Lizards and eggs
All jolly and easy for about 500 metre or so, then the inevitable OUCH.
The typical Pyrenees 9-10% for the next 4Km kicked in before a “Bonjour Philip, I am Monsieur 12%”.
The shock was temporary, and the road settled into a quad friendly 6%.
It tempted me to use the larger gears, but spinning quicker is the best option unless you are going to benefit.
Experience has taught me it’s only going to jump back up, and I’ll be desperately crashing the chain around.
I was right. At the next corner, the gradient popped up to 12%.
On the quiet road, the sound of the river trickling down the mountainside was music.
Small lizards would occasionally rustle through the fallen leaves as they scurried through them to catch the sun.
Living the dream.
We should cherish moments like this for as sure as eggs are ouefs they are only fleeting.
And on cue, a thrashing helicopter shatters the peace.
Must be the TV crew for the tour.
“I wonder what Phil Liggett and the team are thinking back at the studio from the beamed helicopter feed?”
“Will they be applauding my aggressive attack the Col, or will they condemn me for going too early?” (Of course, David Millar will express both opposing views and no opinion?)
They will applaud me, of course, but they will also believe it to be a doomed attempt and they will catch me in the last Km.
At the halfway point, and so far, it has been a straight climb, but now it is hairpins with little gradient change.
The helicopter is still noisily circling but descending.
It’s obvious they have instructed the pilot to close in and capture my stylish pedal action for all the viewers back home.
The last kilometre approaches and the gradient eases to 7%.
Time for the ‘Woolway Kick’. ?
A quick look behind, but no peloton.
YES!!!!, I had thwarted them.
Time for a few photos, change bandana, and eat a banana. (Not the other way around)
On with the descending jacket, more photos and go-go-go. It’s going to be a great descent.
But I came to a halt and wasted brake rubber in my race for glory.
The helicopter had landed in a parking layby and onlookers rushed to see it.
I avoided their suicidal tendencies as they crossed the road at a bend but stopped for the mandatory photo and a nod from the pilot (wow!) before picking up the speed again.
The locals by the riverside will surely be there and eager to greet and cheer me.
The World had been put to rights and so they no doubt buggered off home for a 2-hour lunch to await the next crisis.