Rest Day 1: Andorra
Rest Day 1: Andorra
Monday, 11th July 2016
Monday, 11th July 2016

After 9 days of full-throttle adrenaline (all while getting fat in a car seat) the first rest day of the 2016 Tour de France came at just the right time. While the riders had a well-earned rest, I decided to head out on the bike and turn over my rusty legs. On the grand tours the rest days are pretty much the only time I get to justify all the excess baggage, travel insurance and all-round hassle of lugging a bike halfway across the world - so it is important to make it count. So, come rest day 1, that is exactly what I did.

I’m not sure what it is about rest days and rain, however the two seem to coincide a little more than I’d like. Just before I was about the set off, the sky clouded over and it began to drizzle. I was especially annoyed because my bike was spotless and I had some fresh kit to wear from Santini. Still, with limited opportunities for alpine riding ahead, I thought that I had better make the most of it.

I found a nice looking climb called Els Cortals, which was only a 10km descent away from our accommodation. With an average gradient of 8% over 8.4km, it was going to give me a chance to burn off some of the baguettes.

Unfortunately Speedy's bike had been held up in transit. However, he kindly offered to be my soigneur and photographer for the afternoon - giving me a day off from camera duties. His reasonable fee was a massive steak and a glass of fine Rioja for dinner.

The climb was a beauty and the rain eased on the way up. The only remaining problems were the flies and the dense humidity. The little buggers can apparently only travel at 13km/h so, with that in mind, and a swarm buzzing in pursuit, I did my best to keep the tempo up and drop the pests off my wheel.

Just after I reached the end of the road, the sun began to peek out from behind the clouds, illuminating the descent. With 1600m of climbing over 40 km in the bag, it was time for a grande cervesa and a steak bigger than my head and beard combined.

See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.
Stage 21: Chantilly - Paris Champs Élysées
Stage 17: Berne - Finhaut-Emosson


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