Le Loop 2018 - Stage 16: Carcassonne to Bagnères de Luchon - Barry's view

So I arrived into Carcassonne without too much fuss. A delayed flight out of Stansted (what a poorly thought out departures lounge, just not big enough) wasn’t too bad, nice little flight into the portakabins at Carcassonne. 

 The moment I stepped off the plane, the heavens opened. A welcome relief from the heat of the UK. 10 min walk to the hotel? No bother. What an error! I was drenched!! And to cap it all, found I had forgot my iPhone charger! Not good. 133 miles and 13000 feet of climbing await us tomorrow.....it’s so long there’s an extra feed station. Gulp. 

 Stage 16

 My word - what a day. The garmin ticked over 137 miles, and over 3400m of climbing. I was out on the bike for over 13 hours. It’s fair to say, I’m a bit tired.

 The day started in groups, really needed as it helped you save energy for what was to come. Rolling roads, long drags, little kicks up. Before we knew it, we’re through feed 2 having nailed 62 miles. Half the day done, but the climbs to come. 

 I made the fatal error of expending my energy before the Portet d’aspet, assuming feed 3 was at the bottom. Running on empty, I slogged up, tipped in lunch 2.5km from the top. The hardest bit was yet to come, and the heat of the day ramped up. 

 Tricky decent off there, stopped halfway down to see the memorial to Fabio Casartelli, who died in the 1995 tour, crashing on the descent. Focussed the mind.....

 Straight into the Col de Menté. That was tough. Varying gradients, steep, hard to find a rhythm and the heat made it worse. I trundled up very slowly, and managed to ride with Eric, a lifer from France, he was a huge help in the final 4km. I won’t lie, I was seriously questioning whether I’d finish the stage at points. But once at the top and feed 4, I necked a couple of paracetamol and recovered on the descent. 

 The valley to the next climb was relatively flat, steadily uphill, not steep, which was a massive mental boost. Then before I know it, I’m “flying” up the final climb, the Col du Portillon. It was the best I felt all day. Great climb, fantastic views. 

 To be honest, the stage was so long, I’m struggling to remember much of it! Ask me next week when my body and brain have recovered.....you might get some funnies out of me!

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