Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tour de France 2009 - stages 8 & 9

t-shirts, hats, and stuff for friends & family

On Saturday we decided to drive into Saint-Girons to see the finish of stage 8.  It was about 1 hour from Luchon and a lovely drive through valleys and up and down mountains.  Saint-Girons population is about 8,000, but today there were probably double that.  It was crazy.  We decided we’d walk to the finish and see them cross the line.  We arrived around noon and the guys were scheduled to come in around 4:45 or so.  Luckily at the finish there was a big marché and many vendors, so we picked up some bread, cheese, sausisse, fruit and water and headed over to a shady spot near the river.  After a lovely picnic we went to secure our spot near the finish.  Then we waited…and waited…there was a big screen near us so at least we could watch the race but other than that you just wait.  It was so hot, not a cloud in the sky, we baked!  Great finish and a great day, but we have decided no more stage finishes for us.  Too crazy, too many people and too hot. 

the yellow jersey coming in

fresh sausisse, nothing better

the winner of the stage, before he made his move

Yesterday was an epic stage, stage 9.  From Saint-Gaudens to Tarbes and 2 major climbs.  The Col Tourmalet (which we road on Friday) and the Col d’Aspin.  Since we had already climbed the Tourmalet we decided to climb to the summit of the Aspin and watch the guys go by on this major mountain.  It was not as hard or as long as the Tourmalet, 14km instead of 18km and average grade of 7.2 instead of 7.4, but it was still hard (still a couple of 10% grade sections).  We made it to the top and got a sandwich and soda (to go) and decided to descend about 1.5 km since the top was nuts!  We got an amazing spot right on the side of the road with a view that was nothing short of amazing.  We could also see 3 different sections of the winding road below so we had a great view of the guys coming up the mountain.  This was by far our favorite stage, the location and the excitement and climbing up to the top and descending on our bikes (sure beats walking or sitting in a traffic jam for hours).  We road back to where our car was parked and made it back to the hotel to see the final 15km of the stage.  Great day.

here i come

made it to the top

ouch is right

crazy spanish fans

we road up from that tiny village down there

here come the leaders

there is Tom Boonen

We had a lovely time in Luchon and the weather although cold the first day we arrived turned beautiful for the remaining days.  We would love to return (maybe in September) so we can do some more long mountain rides and enjoy the Pyrenees without the craziness of the tour.

I’m typed this on Monday, in the car on our way to the Toulouse airport to drop-off our rental car and pick-up “Claude” who has been resting for a few days.  Then back to the house and then this afternoon we’ll pick up the dogs from S&S…we sure missed them!

We’ll be over in Provence from the 22-26th and we’ll climb Mt. Ventoux and then watch the stage on the mountain.  The crowds in the Pyrenees were crazy but Ventoux will be insane! 


Stay tuned.


Veronica said...

Hi there

I've enjoyed your postings about the TdF and bravo for le Tourmalet!

Luchon is a lovely town, we've been there several times. You should try the sulphur baths to soothe your aching limbs. Also, there is a lovely, lovely restaurant called l'Auberge de Castelvielh on the outskirts -- well worth a special trip.

La Framéricaine said...

Hey, there!

Congratulations on all your hard rides and keeping up with this year's Tour de France. Your trip is probably the closest I'll ever come to participating in the whole sheebang so I'm enjoying my armchair biking very much!


Cindy said...

Aren't you two looking fit and happy! Looking forward to hearing about your latest plans. It's been really fun following the tour here and seeing the amazing countryside!