James Thinks

writing is a kind of thinking

After reaching the active control at Phare du Cap Bear on the Mediterranean coast, the only cut-off time riders need to worry about is the finish. Midnight on Thursday night/Friday morning.

Back to the mountains

I've planned a simple route back to rejoin the final parcours - number 6. I should be able to grab some supplies while there are still plenty of shops.

Things get a bit more remote on the way back, so I've made some concise route cards, covering the whole route, noting the distances where I can expect various things. I have this information on my phone, but getting it out while riding is tricky and possibly risky. These clip on between my aerobars and should be easy to read. They are obviously not comprehensive, so I hope I have the info I need.

Laminated route cards with concise info about climbs, shops and accommodation.

Parcours 6

The final parcours is over 600km long. In some ways that's a relief as there are no more route dilemmas to think about. All we have to do is follow the line.

Parcours6. Image credit Komoot

The parcours is inspired by the famous "Raid Pyreneen" and has been designed to take in many famous climbs, including the Col d'Aubisque, Col de Soulor and the highest point in the TPR, the Col de Tourmalet.

I've never cycled in the area before, so I don't know what it'll be like climbing these mountains. In the UK it's difficult to find really long climbs. I expect some of these may take me a few hours to get up.

Pacing

Climbing these heights will no doubt slow my average speed. The most mountainous stage involves more than 6000m of ascent in 200km. I do go faster on the descents, but never quite make up the time compared with a flat ride.

If I've completed the first part of the race in the time I hope, then I should have enough time in hand to reduce my daily distance and allow more time for sleep and recovery. Hotel options may be limited and I'm aiming to sleep at relatively lower altitudes for better recovery. Late in the day I will be thinking carefully about whether I want to push on up the next climb when it might be descending in the dark.

UPDATE: I have discovered that descending in the dark is OK, i just need to go slowly. Due to tired hands from braking, I may also need to take breaks!

My outline plan has me finishing about midday on Thursday, with 12 hours in hand. Obviously a lot could change over the 6.75 days of the race to disrupt that plan, but having laid it out I can more easily see whether I'm ahead or behind.

This is my first ultra distance race and if I get to the finish within the time limit I'll be delighted. Even if I don't, then I hope to have some amazing experiences along the way.

Thank you for following what I'm doing and reading this far!

Category: Cycling
Mugshot of James cycling on a road in the sunshine.

James Bradbury

I write about whatever is on my mind. I do so mostly to help me think more clearly. If other people find it interesting that's good too. :-)

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