Stage 15 – Over the Port de Bales

Tour for Kika

I'm in Vielha, Spain, inconveniently typing this from the hotel lobby... the only place in the hotel with wifi. Wilfred, Wouter, Stefan and I just walked back from the cantina round the corner where we had a drink. Nice to be out in the cool night air, after another warm day in the mountains. We laughed at the lamp post now leaning precariously out front... struck first by our truck that transports the bikes followed by the the girlfriend's rental car. They apparently hit it really hard. It looks like I feel.

Last night I stayed in a charming hotel in Mirepoix, just off the town's medieval central square. It looked quite old but had a great shower, a comfy bed and the shutters opened so I could hear the cathedral bells chime 7 am (I'd already been up for an hour editing pictures). Separated from the team for a night, I went for a walk and discovered there was a concert in the cathedral. For ten Euros I got a seat in the soaring nave with what appeared to be half the town for a program of Bach, Duruflé and others.

The girlfriends are back with us and they had the music blaring from their convertible high up on the Port de Bales as the boys pushed up to the summit. All made it up and down to the finish over some pretty exposed pitches without incident. I think it would have been easier to come down on the bike than it was by car. Twice I found myself on the outside edge of a 1.5 lane road with a camper. I hate those white things.

There are many more images of the team to post, but for a change I decided to offer this one of "Ted" a Canadian riding the Tour solo with support from Steve Bauer's Touring company. It is one of my favorite images from the entire trip so far. The small size doesn't do it justice. Our team arrived at the same location a few minutes later, but somehow the larger group just doesn't have the same iconic power as the single rider and the lone tree. It's 12:30 am and roll call is at 6:30... time to call Juli, grab a shower and be in bed by 1 am. I'm running on fumes.

6 Responses to Stage 15 – Over the Port de Bales

  1. How was the Spanish Ginger Beer than? You sound tired but happy, so that’s good, you should sleep soundly going to bed like that.
    I think you have your 10 image you always look for here Michael, lovely diagonal and the lone tree. Must look great poster size, one for the wall when you get home. Not long till you have company and some relaxation with Juli, it’s been fun following you and seeing the progress of the race.
    I know how you feel about campers but don’t forget a lot of people feel that way about cyclists too. Something to think about…
    How was your day with the team jersey?

    • Hi Douglas,

      No Spanish Ginger beer I’m afraid. I’ve drunk more Coca Cola on this trip than I have in the past ten years. Some how Coke and pasta (lunches and dinners) go well together. It will be interesting to see if I’ve missed any gems with my quick edits each night… probably not, but I hope so. I’ve also got a few panos from the top of the Cols to process. Nothing too spectacular I’m afraid given the time of day we arrived. I missed the best sunset of the trip (we were out to dinner and for once I left my cameras). I’ve not gone anywhere without one since.

      Tired now but still trying to find a few more creative answers. Not sure if I have a cover shot yet, maybe Paris. Can you arrange the helicopter for me ;-)

  2. kurt says:

    The solo rider speaks to each of us.
    Cycling is a lonely sport. Most training is done alone. Commuting…alone.
    Even when you are in a group of 20 riders, the suffering is yours alone to endure.

    The sound in the cathedral must have been amazing! A small treat reminds us all what pleasures can be had when we venture out…


    ride on

    • Kurt,

      the sound was amazing… and inspirational considering the place and time. I had a lump in my throat.

      Glad I decided to choose music over dinner.


  3. Julia says:

    hey uncle mike:)
    its julia and my parents. we’ve spent the better part of an hour looking through recent pictures.
    they’re fantastic. must say i’m quite jealous of all your traveling. it looks like your having an amazing time. my dad tried teaching me a bit about cameras the other day and i can appreciate how hard it is to take such great pics. mine were all dark i cant seem to figure out all the aperture and iso :p i guess it’ll take some practice before i can follow the whole robertson clan photography thing. miss you. love you. hope to see you sometime soon.

    • Hi Julia,

      Miss you all too. You must put France near the top of your travel list… it’s so beautiful and the people are very nice even if your French is poor (yours will be much better than mine)… they really appreciate the effort. We’re in the home stretch now, today is a rest day (laundry, camera cleaning and blogging). Juli flies over here on Thursday and she’ll be in Paris for the big celebration when we arrive. It should be quite something.

      Glad you like the photos… I still hope to get something amazing in the last few days. The boys are great and yesterday rode the “Queen” stage of the Tour… the toughest one over four major Cols including the Tormalet and Aubisque. Some of the roads are downright terrifying with the exposure and no guard rails but I made it down in one piece in the big red Mercedes. Stay tuned for the last week.