Margaret and Dick   


Day five: Tarascon to Mont Louis

Distance:  97 km (~60 mi)

Total climbing:  ~2,145 m (6,973 ft)

Calories burned:  2,752

Resting heart rate (a.m.):  67 (ok)

Livestock report:  none!  a total change of terrain

                                The cols:  Puymorens and the climb to Mont Louis 


Andorra is a small principality nestled within a ring of high mountains.  It is known for beautiful scenery and duty-free shopping.  For the first thirty miles of today's route, we rode on the Andorra Express -- a national highway with trucks, more trucks, and French vacationers heading for a shopping spree. 

TMI:  I had a very funny PWAV experience today (see day three).  When the group stopped for snacks, I rode ahead to find a pee spot more scenic than the parking lot where soigneur Dick had parked.  I rode up a couple of switchbacks and voila! a cement embankment two feet high, sufficient shelf across the embankment, and a perfect view of the mountains surrounding Andorra.  All was fine despite the traffic, but then I realized that in standing I would be mooning the next car to pass me.  "Who cares?  I'll never see these people again," I thought,  and I stood to pull up my shorts.  The next car honked in response, of course, and I waved somewhat abashedly...then found I had mooned my soigneur/husband!

It was Brillat-Savarin who said you are what you eat.  I am PowerBars and couscous aux tomates.  Dick asks each morning if I still want to eat exactly the same food during my day of cycling.  Why mess with something that works?  I treated myself to a chicken sandwich a few days ago and my body went into heavy digestion mode -- all blood to the stomach, nothing in the legs -- for the next hour.  Couscous with sliced tomatoes and lots of salty soup mix -- yum!

Yesterday after my ride I didn't eat my customary packet of nougat (muscle replenishment is most efficient in the short period following a ride), and I didn't drink my whey protein solids before bed.  Today I paid for these oversights.  Even with careful attention to nutrition, eventually the tank goes empty and the muscles have no more stored energy.  It happened today, about three miles from the last real climb, the col de Puymorens.  Boy, was that a slow climb.

Luckily the rest of the ride can be handled by my aerobic system, with no steep climbs like we encountered on previous days.  The aerobic system will run forever, just not very fast.  I drummed up enough energy to do a two-fisted salute, which Dick the soigneur/photographer missed; he had me go back downhill for a repeat.  One last photo at a col and we headed across the hot open fields of the high Cerdagne plain. 

(Pyrenees day four)   (Pyrenees day six)