Stage 10: Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles
Our first taste of the mountains today – saw several sections of the stage described as ‘desperately steep’ and we wouldn’t disagree with that. The major challenge today was coping, (or not), with the contrasts in temperature between climbing and descending. On all the climbs I was too hot and twice on the descents I got so cold that I had to be rescued by the back-up van because of uncontrollable shivering which carried on for ages even once I was in the van, in the sleeping bag, with a woolly hat on and the van heater on full blast. (Martin took one look at me and commented – ‘It’s the middle of July’…). He was fortunate enough to be very near the van when the monsoon rains started so jumped in for shelter. I was half way down the mountain when the deluge started and the van took a while to find me.
Riding up the ‘Col de Chevreres’ we didn’t see any goats or female goat herds but I’m sure a goat could have climbed it quicker. I was moving forward, but anyone watching would have found it difficult to tell.
Today’s stage overlapped with yesterday’s at a crossroads on top of one of the climbs, and when we arrived it was total chaos up there – people and vehicles everywhere, and tipping down with rain. The French are great at waving bicycles through, so we were able to continue on our route. At one spot Martin was set to follow a side turning marked with yellow arrows but luckily I realised that it was part of yesterday’s stage – we are not so keen that we want to repeat any of the stages….
Andy banned us from completing the final climb today having seen the raging river running down the road, carrying copious quantities of rocks with it… We cycled all sections of the cobbles which the professionals didn’t so feel OK with that.
I’m now riding Martin’s spare bike, (thanks Martin..). Am planning to spend tomorrow, (Bastille Day and our first official rest day), on major bike repairs and maintenance. Alistair and Matt fly in to Basel this evening and have a day to prepare themselves for starting their stint as back-up team. I’m sure Andy will fill them in on the challenges!