I got back from France in the early hours of Sunday morning, in time for news of England's defeat and tweets about a rave at the old post office building by East Croydon. I have been putting off writing about the Raid since then, despite having kept a pretty decent diary while in France, basically because there was so much I don't really know where to begin. So this will probably be rather rambling and unsatisfying to read but best thing is to make a start.
The Raid Pyrenean is a route from Hendaya on the Atlantic coast of Southern France, through to Cerbere on the Mediterranean, taking in 18 Cols and 730km along the way, including such famous climbs as the Tourmalet, Aspin, and Portet De Aspet. it was devised by the Pau Cycling Club over 100 years ago though has only sprung to life in the 1950's. To Qualify as a Raider the course has to be completed in under 100 hours. Its a ride I have wanted to do ever since I joined the Ports. Around 10 years ago there was a club trip to take this on, and was part of the club folklore by the time I became a Port. The story of that trip was immortalised by Graham Fife in his book The Beautiful Machine, in which he alleges he climbed the Peyresourde in the big ring, and who am I to cast doubt on such a claim. Anyway it has been on my list to do for ages, and a few times there has been talk of another club trip but it never quite happened. So this year me and Say decided to get on with it and book up. We started on the Monday 9th June at 9.00am with a group photo by the sea, and arrived in Cerbere shortly after noon on Friday 13th. In between was a fantastic cycling adventure, and one that I would recommend to anyone for wants to ride in the high mountains.
We travelled with Marmot Tours. The support they provided through their leaders, Graham and Tim turned out to be first rate. 14 were booked as part of our group, but only 13 started. By the time we left France there was still no news of no-show Peter. The group was an eclectic mix, including 2 anaesthetists, a hairdresser and a Rugby League correspondent amongst other things. We all assembled at the seashore for the customary photo to start the Raid.
To be continued.....