Today I paid in spades for my Hautacam prowess. At the last minute I enrolled in a time trial from Luz Saint-Saveur up to Luz Ardiden, another classic Tour arrival climb. Organized by the Lavedan cycling club and by the local tourist office, the contre-la-montre offered about forty among locals and non-locals a chance to try their skills against each other and the once more unforgiving weather, which presented a menu of thick brouillard and rain all the way up to the ski station.
I thought I could easily make it in the middle positions: how wrong I was! The club riders went up fast, soon disappearing uphill. I tried to chase them, but ny heart and my legs would simply not cooperate to keep the pace, easily going into overdrive on ramps that yesterday I took with much more panache. In the end I made it in one hour eight minutes, definitely not a world record.
Coming down after the refreshment at the top was even worse: once more I'm happy I stopped before the dreaded Tourmalet descent at the Étape. My hands froze in place in spite of the long gloves. Thankfully, they froze in the "brake pulled" position, preventing me from dropping to almost certain death. And thankfully they came alive once more after the mandatory hot shower, allowing me to type this today.