As customary after all my cycling trips into the high mountains, most of those shamelessly dubbed Tour de France like this one or Giro d’Italia, I give you a recap with some stats of my latest adventure.
Compared to other two-week (14 or 15 stages) “grand tours”, it wasn’t the hardest, but it came in close 3rd in distance.
This is also its rank in elevation (D+) but looking at the average D+ over the total distance, it lands on 6th spot (from 7, as neither the TDF 2022 nor the Giro 2020 were two weeks)…
For a total of 1,147 kms, the D+ was 31,971 m – applying the not totally correct, but fair enough 50/50 rule, that amounts to some 56 m of D+ per km of climbing.
Compare that to the Giro’s of 2011 and 2015 (both 82 m/km) or the “toughest” TDF, 2022 at 66 m/km, and this “Pyrenees” Tour seems relatively easy.
Now, I know I’m getting older and some of the (previous) numbers are “off” – be it taken from Garmin, Strava or RideWithGPS – but this Tour really didn’t feel any easier…
Of course, if the mountains are simply not as high in the Pyrenees as they are elsewhere and your starting altitude is not significantly lower than for instance in the Savoie, you’re bound to end up short in elevation.
Although generally more irregular, the climbs where, however – looking at the devilishly deceptive averages – not so different from other areas.
And if you follow any of the links – or look at the ClimbFinder map – there are hardly any cols/climbs that show average grades below 7%.
My “recovery” rides and “French flat” stretches like between Bagnères-de-Bigorre and Argèles-Gazost or Sainte-Marie-de-Campan obviously do impact the overall statistics/average grade of my Tour, though…
While the weather was not as bad as the Death Valley circumstances I cycled in last year – but only 8 days – it was frequently too hot to cycle comfortably.
And if one thing is wearing you out quickly, it’s scorching heat…
Anyway, these are the numbers of the 15 stages that made up the Tour de France 2023:
|Stage||Dist.||D+||Time||AVG Speed||Max Speed||Min. temp.||Max. temp.|
(Stage 1 was taken from the Strava app, as I deleted it somehow from my Edge, so no temperature readings on that.)
Three rides over 100 kms, which would’ve been four if not for a flat ending stage 9 prematurely, and one ride cut short due to constant rain (stage 8) which was also the shortest stage.
I took it easy during two stages and blew myself to bits on what was supposed to have been another easy-ish stage 14.
Stage 2 was almost the end of it – which took me 12 stages in 2021 – but I recovered remarkably well after that, not in the least thanks to my “upping the candy”.
Not the healthiest of “solutions” to a de facto not sustainable, unhealthy string of efforts, but like I commented on one of the rides: I’ll pay the devil when I’m dead…
Nevertheless, my last stage was a torturous struggle, much like stage two, although I will also not easily forget the Cirque de Troumouse, especially the blistering hot last 3 kms of it.
Or the insane Col de Beyrède, which made only 4 kms look like an eternity (in hell)…
This is the fancy VeloViewer wheel btw:
I’ve covered most, but not all, climbs east to west and north to south between Port de Balès and the Col d’Aubisque.
That’s no less than 25 cols and dead ends…
Only a handful of those were tackled from both ends, as far as they even had two ends: Port de Balès, Col de Peyresourde, Col d’Aspin, Hourquette d’Anzican and of course the Tourmalet.
I’m not really counting the Col de Bordères and the Sarrat de Gaye, as the latter had a very short other end and the former was only cycled from less than halfway up its other end.
I, as much as Paula, without whom I would never be able to do anything like any of my delusional grand tours, have enjoyed cycling this area, which I have postponed for far too long.
But, as it turns out, I didn’t take any opportunity I got before this year to cycle in another area for nothing.
I’ve been cycling in and out of holiday seasons and this year – like the previous two Tours – was in the holiday season.
While that is generally speaking way better, as at least most places – (summit) restaurants, shops – are open, it seemed to us that the Pyrenees might well be the favorite holiday destination of all the French who are not living there.
That, together with the usual foreign tourists made it a little too crowded for our taste. Most, especially the French, are hikers, not cyclists, but they occupy the same places.
And, as it practically home for many Spanish cyclists and hikers from across the nearby border, you can add thousands of those to the party as well…
Still, we have had the pleasure of staying in a perfect – and recently renovated – apartment, which I would recommend to anyone and that in itself might be worth coming back here one day.
That, plus pocketing the few cols/climbs that got away…