Following my post earlier in the week, an update from Henry
Greetings from the train back from Lourdes, after an incredible day at the etape. The conditions were described by the local paper as 'apocalyptique” and ”Dantesque” with driving rain and - at the top of the mountains - near freezing temperatures. The battle is not just with yourself (and the elements) but also the 'broom wagon' which sweeps off the road those who don't go fast enough. Almost 2,500 were eliminated in Sunday's conditions.
And I made it. I kept 10 minutes ahead of the broom wagon in the early stages, slogged for two hours up the mighty 7,000 ft Tourmalet (more than twice the height of the highest mountain in England) for an exhilarating feeling at the top. Then a wonderful (though icy) descent through the Gorge de Luz - survived through the old cyclist trick of stuffing newspaper up your shirt (stops the chest freezing).
And finally the unrelenting 5,000 ft of the Hautacom. My time was 9 hours 6 minutes (so 45 minutes to spare). It felt so good.
If you sponsored me - many many thanks
If you haven't yet, there's still time (I'm told 20% of donations come in after the event):
And this is me in action: http://tinyurl.com/6xuooe
I can feel the need to do something daunting myself now.