|At the start of the real difficulties|
I settled on a loop from Lourdes that let me climb the col from the east side. The first part of the day involved gradual climbing up the valley bottom to St Marie de Campan to the start of the real climbing. The climb is 17 km long, but the first 5 km or so aren't very steep but from then on it's a steady 9% or 9.5% slope to the summit. From near the start I was in the clouds; this helped by keeping me cool but hid the wonderful views on the way up. At the top I took a few pics then had a very chilly descent through the clouds - so much for the clearing forecast. The last 30 km were out of the clouds and a lot more fun, a gradual downhill back to Lourdes.
|TdF memorabilia in the summit mist|
I also took note of my climb rate - just over 700 meters per hour (more details here). This is a really simple way of measuring cycling performance and corresponds to a decent club cyclist and is less than half of the best TdF riders. It's also only a little quicker than I will climb a steep mountain path on foot (around 550 meters per hour) and way slower than I expect to thermal up on a paraglider or sailplane!