In anticipation of the wildcard entry of Black Fly in Le Tour for 2011 (they can't snub us again), I recently took the Black Fly jersey to do some scouting of the decisive climbs in the Pyrenees.
It was amazing and incredibly difficult, on every climb I used a 30/25 or 30/23 ratio, and still needed to stop and take breaks. Clearly I will not be protecting our captain on the mountain stages, good luck Marty.
I rationalized my breaks as "scenic breaks" as the old french men grinded past me, but the breaks also allowed lots of pictures and I included some below.
Most climbs were about 13-18 km long and often averaged 7-8%, taking about 2 hours to climb. Descents were scary and fun, but also freezing, my toes would go numb and it was never a nice surprise to see a tour bus or RV making its way up switchbacks. Most daily rides were about 75-100 km in total, with half of the trip coasting (sometimes up to 45min chunks without pedaling).
If anyone has any questions about visiting the Pyrenees for cycling feel free to give me shout, otherwise I am hoping to make it back there next summer.
The key climbs in the trip included:
Col du Tourmalet (2115 m)
Station Luz Arididen (1725 m)
Hautacam (1700 m or about that)
Port de Boucharo (about 2200 m)
plus lots of other ones!
I will try and post the rest of the pictures on the facebook page sometime
on the the way to Port de Boucharo, the final kilometer was snowed in still (May 30! and snow!)
Switchbacks up to Station Luz Arididen
cooked on top of Hautacam
View from Hautacam
The crowds cheering on Black Fly were out in force on the Hautacam
Black Fly in small village at 1300 meters!
Just above the clouds and almost at the top of the Tourmalet