Pla d Adet
10/10 in 35
After the Col d’ Portillon experience, it was time to face my first 10/10 climb: the Pla d Adet.
I have already ridden 9/10 but a 10/10 makes you think about it a bit more.
Despite the 35º I left Saint-Lary-Soulan and feeling ready for the climb and headed for the segment start at the D123 roundabout.
I liked the first 100 metres. It was 6% but after that it became a serious 11% where it remained for the next 7Km.
After the first 3Km, I came to my first distance marker, which informed I had 7Km to go.
The realisation that so far, I had only climbed 3Km was a hard blow.
The gradient gave me no respite and after what seemed like an age, the next marker came into view.
This must be the 5Km because it’s been so long since the 7Km one.
Think again, it’s 6Km
I stared up the road as best I could through the misty blur of sweaty sunglasses and ploughed on.
Right? Left? Right? Wrong!
At 3Km, the road forked.
A wide, steeper road to the right and a narrow shallower one to the left.
Now feeling the struggle and not in the mood for decisions, I went right or, more to the point, I went wrong.
The Garmin was now having hysterics and displaying the end point as being further away.
I carried on another 100 metres, thinking it might be an error, but the display showed that I was even further away.
I pulled over and cursed the Garmin for its ‘obvious’ mistake, but then I realised it might have been my mistake.
“Oh, dear I thought, I seemed to have taken the wrong turn,” (or something close to that).
What to do?
I decided the only solution was to return past the point where I turned and resume the correct route.
I rode back a 100metres past the junction and proceeded the right way (left).
These final few Kms from the turn were a doddle at 6-7% to the deserted ski village.
I look around. It was as empty as I felt.
I stopped for one unenthusiastic photo just in case the ride counted, but my hopes were not high.
I knew really
Downwards I rolled, not only cursing my misfortune but also taking the pi55 out of myself.
“Surely Strava will work this out and still give me the segment.” I hoped.
As soon as I arrived at the car, I uploaded the ride.
No mention of the segment in my activity record.
I checked the hidden segments just in case, still no.
I didn’t suddenly realise that I hadn’t done it. In my heart of hearts, I knew I hadn’t, and I also knew I would have to ride it again.
BIG decision time
A simple choice.
- Return to the campsite, recover, and ride tomorrow.
- Eat 3 croissants, down a can of Red Bull and go again, straight away.
A return tomorrow would have meant a restless night thinking about it, so any recovery wouldn’t be ideal.
If the climb was too much, I could abandon and return later.
I don’t know why I think these things through rationally; the answer is always the same (Guzet Neige).
Once my bum was on the saddle, it wouldn’t be coming off until I reached the top.
Once more, with feeling
Ok, steady low gear, just spin, stay relaxed and take it easy.
The ride was easier this time, but still very hard. (Déjà vu?)
At about the halfway point, you pass through a small village and a slight relief as you cross a bridge over the valley.
Two couples were admiring the view and heard my desperate efforts for air and merrily shouted “Est-ce electrique?”
“Non. Jé suis electrique,” I replied.
I shocked myself at my reply. All those hours of French lessons had paid off.
They laughed, and I’m guess they understood or were they laughing at a Brit on Brompton attempting French?
Then a loud silence. I am here, at the infamous junction.
No mistakes this time. Left is right. ?
As I stared at the road sign and thought it was bloody obvious which way I had to go.
How on earth did I get it wrong?
The answer, of course, came quickly, “Because you are a dumbass sometimes Phil?”, (nothing new in that revelation).
One man and his dog
The ski village, previously deserted, now had a builder and his black dog in residence.
I had found my photographer and a photo bombing dog.
On the way down, I passed the hotel sign “Le Porquoi Pas” (Why not?).
The sign summed up my decision to ride the climb again.
Well, that’s enough of things going wrong for one day. Or so I thought.
The vending machine at the side of the bar beckoned me.
Hmm, a cold Orangina would wash down the last of the croissants.
A liquid gold lifesaver, surely, but the bloody tin got stuck on the way out.
One good kick in the nuts deserves a good one back and my one subtly liberated the errant can.
My thoughts now were of another Pyrenean Steak burger and IPA, but my friend Susan’s voice interrupts these in my head saying, “You Muppet”.