Four big climbs, the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde were involved. 4,696 riders started and 3,829 reached the finish line, so a much lower rate of attrition than Issoire to St Flour last year. However, like last year, the weather left a little to be desired. It was pleasant enough in Pau for the start but by the time I was half way up the Aubisque the persistent drizzle had started and every descent, save the lower part of the one into the finish, was done on wet roads in poor visibility. I tend to descend in such conditions not that much faster than I ascend - a slight exaggeration but I pass people on the way up never on the way down -and my better 'classement grimpeur' compared to my 'classement reel' reflects this.
Happily I had done a ride in the foothills of the Pyrenees last Thursday when the sun shone brightly.
So I have now done six, 3 in the heat and 3 in the rain. The difference this year is I did not really anticipate the conditions and did not dress appropriately. I would have given the weight equivalent in gold for long fingered gloves (left in my hotel room in Pau) whilst I was coming down off the Tourmalet; a descent that I note from the on line resource Strava took me over 32 minutes compared to under 18 minutes taken by one Kenny Nijssen on the same morning. Whether he slowed as I did for the mud strewn all the way across the road at La Mongie intrigues me.
Even if these things seem less than wholly pleasurable at the time, I am always glad after the even that I took part. I reckon 289th in my age category is creditable enough along with being in the top third of climbers of any age.