It was the day of the long awaited cycling event, La Pyrenéenne! The guys had been training for months. Our big adventure in Basque Country was planned around this event, which actually took place in France.
We traveled to Bagneres de Bigorres the day before and met with more friends of our hosts, and settled into a lovely, quaint hotel for the night.
The guys doing the long three mountain route left for their 7:00 a.m. mass start. Some commented about Mike's RAIN jersey as the weather was already threatening precipitation. He was only showing off/advertising the Indiana cycling event--RideAcrossINdiana.
I ran after them intending to take pictures of the start and come right back and join the ladies for breakfast. Things turned out quite differently than planned. Stay tuned for that story, Monday perhaps.
Mid morning, us women went to the middle point of the figure eight shaped route you can see on this website and waited by the St. Marie church. That intersection was rather dangerous as two major cycling events came together going in opposite directions. Our guys were coming down from Tourmalet and the other riders were heading up. They were celebrating the 100th year of inclusion of the region and these mountains in the Tour de France.
I think the first one of our group that we saw come down was Dane. The 16 year-old whizzed by before we arrived.
Two of the friends had planned on the late start or shorter route. One of them was so very excited about reaching the summit, he was quite emotional when he phoned his wife from up there. We waited and waited for him and when he came by, to our disappointment, he didn't even stop! We found out later what had taken so long--he had phoned the owner of the bicycle, his mother, his siblings, anyone he could think of to tell them of his thrilling success!
In the Spanish phrase book Mike picked up before we left the US, there was one page dedicated to the Basque language. There we found a cheer we thought might be appropriate to encourage 'us and ours':
Gora gu, ta gutarrak!
The friends were greatly amused, but didn't tell us till later that the radicals have now taken it up as their chant!
So the ride was far more challenging than expected and our guys came in almost last.
Speaking of last, today I ran a 5 mile race and finished absolute last. The scripture that says The last shall be first proved true, however, and I won first place in my age category. The award was something very practical --a pair of Cool Max ankle socks.