Stage 8: Tomblaine to Gerardmer La Mauselaine 161km
Today’s stage had the official classification of ‘hilly’ but the first three quarters of the route were flat, with the hilly bit saved for three significant climbs at the end. When cycling on the flat I have the edge over Martin, being bigger and stronger, (and having stamina from years of experience of working long hours outdoors in foul weather). It’s a different story when the gradient increases. Today I just led Martin to the bottom of the climbs and then waved him goodbye and watched him streak away from me. Luckily I’m a lot quicker on the descents, so can generally catch him up again before the next hill.
Thought I was doing well on the first climb, (7km long but a steady incline to the top), but then we hit the ‘Col de Grosse Pierre’, (not named after me – I lost 2 stone before this trip…), which had ridiculously steep sections and hairpin bends. If you stalled a vehicle on the steepest sections you wouldn’t have a chance of getting it started again. The final climb, up to the the ski station at La Mauselaine was also incredibly steep in places. When you check the stats for particular climbs it gives you an average gradient across the whole climb, which doesn’t at all reflect the reality. The scenery around here is stunning if you can lift your head from the handlebars to look.
No special birds spotted today but I did see the famous ‘Red Devil’ – a German man who is a permanent fixture of the Tour, usually spotted wearing his red onsie and running along the side of the road waving his trident. He hadn’t turned out especially for us – he drove past us in his campervan.
When watching local TV last night there was a piece interviewing a woman standing next to an enormous wooden cow, (double decker bus size). Didn’t know what it was all about, but was easy enough to recognise it when we cycled past it earlier today. Should have stopped for a ‘photo to publicize my sponsorship from OMSCo (the organic milk suppliers’ co-operative). We are drinking milk at the end of every stage – it is a brilliant sports re-hydration drink.
Got a call in the middle of the day which I thought was Andy giving news on lunch but it was a chap from Radio Solent who wants to interview me next week. Really hitting global media now! Will have info about when it’s going to be broadcast early next week. We are getting more coverage back at home – (‘British riders leading the Tour, (because they started a day early’ ). Please spread the word and encourage people to donate to the RSPB on my ‘Just Giving’ page and to Bridewell therapeutic gardens in Oxfordshire, a charity which Martin and his family are involved with.
Thanks for all your support and encouraging messages. We have two really tough days to come before the first rest day on Monday.