Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

For more information on the Cafes I have visited and the latest cafe cycle news go to http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/

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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Across the Pyrenees. Day 3 (Col du Tourmalet followed by Col de Aspin)

Across the Pyrenees,
Day 3,
Agos-Vidalos to St Lary
Today was the Queens stage as we got to the highest point on the tour via the iconic climb of Col du Tourmalet. But more of that later as first it was time for petit dejeuner at Chez Pierre d’agos and croissant testing. I’m sure as you can see from the photo this was not a good one so hopefully there will be better found during the day. It led to me having to endure a full blown breakfast pastry rant from Andrew.
Poor looking croissant offering at breakfast
Everyday starts with a briefing from our French team guide Claude, which consists of some pointing and shrugs as he describes the next bit of the route. We are none the wiser as where we are going but it’s all very French and seems to work.
No one paying attention as next part of route is explained
Despite always setting off as a group as soon as an incline is reached we soon split up with me and Andrew (who is both notoriously hard to please and very old) normally joining up with the other 2 other over 50s into a group full of experience.
The peloton in action
The ride started with a gentle 15 mile uphill stretch to the bottom of Tourmalet and as everyone was a little nervous of what lay ahead then for once the group stayed together in a long peloton. At the foot of the climb we had a break and the best croissant to date although still not the ultimate one.
Better croissants found at the foot of the Tourmalet
Then it was on to the slopes. The road was a consistent 7-8% for the first 10km as we climbed up the valley with the river beside us.
The early part of our iconic climb
After passing the midway point it picked up with a series of switchbacks. I got quite emotional as I thought about the tour coming up here in a few weeks time and the likelihood that I would be getting the King of the Mountains points (although I seem to be the only one counting them) today. As I turned each corner I checked I couldn't see any of my rivals behind me as I pressed on.
Heading to the top
Unfortunately the French authorities were out repairing the roads in preparation for the TdF peloton tarts who don't like pot holes in their roads (I hope the tour never comes to Norfolk then) so I had to stop a couple of times to brush off the stones that were now sticking to my tyres. However the views and thoughts of croissant at the top kept me going.
Views of where we had come up from as I approached the summit
Once at the top it was time for the iconic photo and to test the croissant. 
I wasn't sure of the statue meant that your were supposed to cycle up naked,
 maybe next time
The croissant was pants so I won’t bore you with the third photo of one today instead here is a picture of Andrew finishing about 30 mins later ranting about tar.
No croissant photo but Andrew cycles uphill like one so here's a photo of him instead
The stoney tar had taken its toll causing a broken derailleur and slow puncture in our group so by the time everyone was at the top, group photo had been taken, bikes fixed and lunch eaten it had been 2.5 hours since I reached the summit and I was itching to go. Just as we set off I noticed I too had a slow puncture so I was last down a very nice long descent.
Fabulous descent from Tourmalet
As soon as we reached the bottom it was off again up Col d’Aspin (13 km, 5% av, 8.3% max, 650m ascent). Another lovely climb that started gentle but turned brutal over the last 5 km as it winded through the woods. This was much more the type of climb that me and Andrew are used to from our trips to Italy and Slovenia.
The climb up Col d'Aspin was a much more woody one
Once at the top it was a race to beat the local cow over the finish line.
Race to get to the top of the Col d'Aspin for maximum KOM points
(although I seem to be the only one counting)
The cow was gracious in defeat but had put her bike away before the photo was taken.
Celebrating a stunning victory over the local cow
There was no cafe or croissant at the top which was probably good as 4 croissants in one day might be a bit much. Andrew turned up 15 mins later with a big finish impressing the local paparazzi. 
Andrew completing his climb up Aspin
This just left the decent and ride through the valley to today’s hotel. Andrew decide to make a break leaving me to lead in the rest of the over 50s team home. However this moment of madness lead to suspension from the old peoples team and a hefty fine. Karma was maintained when he got lost in town looking for the hotel, meaning my peloton got back first and I was able to baggy the best bed.
Stunning views from top Col d'Aspin
It was another great, if rather long, day of cycling. I got maximum KoM points and Andrew still holds the best over 60s rider jersey. Things had been better on the croissant front too but I’m increasingly concerned that decent cafes will be hard to come by on the TdF as the two I tried today, at the bottom and top of the Tourmalet, were both distinctly average despite the stunning views

Tomorrow’s climbs are slightly less well known so hopefully may have better offerings.

Todays Route

Cafe ratings
Hotel du Fronton, Itaxassou. 5.8
Cafe Du Souloe 5.4
Terrace cafe Tourmalet 6.1
Tourmalet summit cafe 5.9

Croissant ratings
Venue Freshness Frenchness Flavour  score
  Heathrow         4       3      10.9      17.9
  Bellevue hotel         5       4      12.7      21.7
  Krakada patisserie, Itxassou         7       7.8       14.1      28.9
 L’Auberge de l’Etable, Montory        7.5       7.3      13                     27.8
Chez Pierre d’Agos        2       2       6      10
Terrace, Tourmalet         7.8       7.5       16.4      31.7
Top Tourmalet         2       2.5        8      12.5
8
9
10
11
12
13
15
Stats

 
Miles
Av Speed (MPH)
Time on Bike (H:M)
Metres climbed
 Day 1 
81.9
15
5:27
1751
 Day 2
71.5
13.37
5:20
2010
 Day 3 
60
11.4
5:05
2499
 Day 4 
 Day 5 
 Day 6 
 Overall
213.4
13.4
15:52
6260

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