27 August 2011

A Positivo trip to the Pyrenees

Day 1
I met Stephen at Lyon Airport on August 14th in the evening after he finally decided to join me for several victory Tour de France stages even though he was suffering from kidney stone. Stephen secretly knew about my ability to find efficient cure for him although I have no medical capacities nor could be trusted as a good nutritional specialist. However he decided not listen to his mother (white angel) & follow my Jerome (the red devil)‘ & mountain appeal.
We arrived in Pau after 6h30 long drive (750 km), being obliged to stop several times in emergency & food replenishments. We finally made it @ 1 am

Day 2
After a long night sleep, we woke up early afternoon & share our first meal with our hosts (Nicole who would become our Medical & Massage Director & her daughter Claire – a dentist student-). Stephen complained about kidney stone suffering while finishing the succulent apple tart (I would discover later an Irish typical (?) but strange habit, Stephen had to mix apples with every meal)
We then assembled our bicycles & decided to go for warm up ride around Pau. We cycled over numerous hills & descent to reach next main village on time for another meal. Stephen could confirm French waiters famous politeness when he was told that at 4pm no sane customer would pretend to order food (everybody should know that all kitchens close after 2pm) not respecting the sacro saint compulsory 35 hours work regulation. We finally found an agreeable solution by ordering some food which would not request using an oven. Once again Stephen asked for a calvados (apple alcohol drinks commonly drank in Normandy) crepe – with no calvados nor whipped cream but only Apple, Once again our nice waiter did not seem to be happy about having to modify the menu. Unfortunate customers from Spain / England also faced the same situation,
After this nice encounter with French customs, we headed back to Pau through the main road. I tried to provoke Stephen on many occasion but vanquished by kidney stones suffering he would not threaten my determination to win all fights,

Day 3 – A miracle trip –
After another late wakening, Stephen & I decided to revisit 2010 killing Etape du Tour (Mourenx / Cold du Tourmalet). We headed towards Col de Marie Blanque at a very record speed & crossed triumphally the pass attacking the descent toward Col de l’Aubisque & Soulor. The ascension to col du Soulor went very smooth while we were well in front of the peloton. However the descent towards the base of Tourmalet was very slow due to Stephen vertigo & heavy traffic. Only when we arrived at the base of Tourmalet we got off (the car) to get a well deserved Panini / salad meal. After this tiring trip we unfortunately decided to give up climbing Tourmalet due to our late start. Instead we decided to pay a visit to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, a city famous for its miracle. To be frank, as an old previous religious man, I had my own idea & though it would be worth trying to challenge Lourdes & its miracle => A visit to the famous cavern would surely cure Stephen if he sat on the special chairs for disabled people. We braved the hot sun & heavy crowd of visitors (so many Indians…) paid respect to Bernardette, but also drank the miracle water. At 8 pm we headed back to Pau full of hope.

Day 3 Marie Blanque / Col du Soudet

Our basic plan was to challenge the famous Marie Blanque Pass as well as Soudet & the deadly Bagargi passes. In the first laces of Col du Soudet (a 18 km climb), Stephen overtook the whole peloton (me) for the final win. It seemed that the miracle had happened (although for Nicole it was more the effect of efficient medicine she gave Stephen from the very first day), As he promised, Stephen will therefore have to visit Lourdes again to pay tribute to his revival. After several rest on route to the pass we finally reached it & decided to ride up to St Martin ski station before sharing a well deserved power lunch under a nice sun. God were with us: even though it was around 4pm & the kitchen supposed to be closed as everybody is supposed to know, we were welcomed by a nice waitress who was ready to cook anything for the 2 heroes of the day. After a couple of drinks & dishes we gave up the idea to challenge the next pass but I just made it a point to climb to the Spanish border while Stephen headed back to the base of the Soudet where we had parked the car.

Day 4 rest day with a visit to Pau festival

Day 5
I successfully flew back to Paris while Stephen miraculously & freshly recovered from his disease decided to head toward Alpes d’Huez – 500 km away – by car for a last challenge. I would heard later however that he decided to drive back direct to Zurich, In fact he had planned a coffee date with a nice young Swiss lady named Beatrice that he dreamt about for the whole stay in Pau.

Before bidding farewell, we planned to organize a bicycle trip next year across the Pyrenees: Stephen had found a nice itinerary over the net www velo peloton.com which we could probably organize ourselves – avoiding being charged 850 euro per participant if we joined the official tour - with the help of our newly appointed Medical / Massage director who also agreed to serve as the broom car driver as well as the re appointed Team Manager (my brother Matthieu – see David L report regarding our Etape du tour journey)

We will keep you informed about this project but would like to know who could be interested by this new Positivo Espresso challenge


Anonymous said...

Hi Froggy. Glad you had fun in the mountains! We hope stephens cure is permanent. WE checked the membership here and are happy to report that all the members of PEE (UK) would be happy to tour the Pyrenees!! J&D

Froggy said...

It's an encouraging start... we are now 4 if I include Stephen & I.
Let's discuss the best timing (probably end of July or early August)

David L. said...

I would love to join and hope I can do so, though I am afraid that next summer I need to give reasonable priority to work/family matters, including getting younger son Henry off to university.

This summer I gave cycling #1 priority--and I should have applied even more focus to prepare for and properly approach PBP--but it is too soon to know if I will have the same luxury next year.

mob said...

Yes, I would love to join. Not sure about the best time, probably first two weeks in July would be best. Shall we do Transpyrenee instead of Transalp 2012?