2002-09-06, Prades - Cerbère
After the breakfast we went out to the car park outside the hotel to take some group photos. Some guys started off immediately, but most of us waited until 08:30 before we got going. The weather was gorgeous and we had a strong tailwind. As planned I followed Bob's wheel for most of the ride.
Group photo before leaving Prades.
According to the Carnet de Route we were about to pass the Col Temere somewhere along the first part of the stage, but I could not find anything that resembled a col. Afterwards when I scrutinised the data from my bike computer I detected that we had gained 20 metres when riding 700 metres, so I guess this had to be it.
Not much happened during the first 60 kilometres of the ride. We passed towns such as Vinca, Ille-sur-Tet, Thuir, Bages and Elne. The group kept together in the strong wind. After St Cyprien we arrived to some small villages along the coast and for the first time the navigation became something of a problem. We stopped, checked the map, got going, stopped again, asked somebody local and got going again.
Pause on the road to Cerbère.
After a flat part we reached the coastline and the road started to go up and down. The seaside resorts were located at the bottom of the slopes and immediately afterwards the road started to climb, just to descend towards the next village. The speed at the front increased all the time. At one point some of us chose the wrong turn and were about to join the N114 instead of the D114. We had to go around an additional roundabout and fight our way back to the front group.
There were five of us left after Port-Vendres. Beside myself, there were Bob, Erol, Aussie Dave and Chris, who rode for the same club as Erol and in my opinion had the coolest bike on this trip. The frame was a classic burgundy Colnago from the 80:ies, the type of frame that Giuseppe Saronni used to ride, and it was equipped with state-of-the-art Campagnolo Record equipment.
When I saw Erol confer with Bob at the front I guessed that something was going on and sure enough after their discussion Erol made an attack. I stuck to his wheel and tried to hang on. Erol made another two or three attacks, but I clung on to his wheel.
After another attack uphill I made a short counterattack. As I aborted my counterattack Aussie Dave came past me at horrific speed and got a 50-metre gap at once. I did not believe that he would make it to the finish with so far to go, but I still gave what I had to bring him in. We had lost Chris and the rest of us chased through Banyuls, zigzagging between the cars in our attempt not to loose more ground. Directly after the city we started the climb where I had planned to make my move, but by now the roles had been changed. I gave all I had and halfway up the hill we lost Erol. I chased on with Bob at my wheel.
At some point Bob came up alongside and said something I was not able to hear because of my own heavy breathing. Without any visible effort Bob increased the speed and started to chase Aussie Dave. The road meandered along the coast and in the wide bends I could see Aussie Dave and Bob ahead of me. After a couple of kilometres I could see the Cerbère city sign and the coach was parked just before it.
Robert and Mikael in Cerbère.
We stopped by the coach, waited for the usual suspects, took some photos and freewheeled down to the town. We parked our bikes at the beach, took off all clothes but the shorts and jumped into the Mediterranean Sea. The water was not too warm, but it did not matter at this point.
After the swim we got our cards stamped, had lunch at a bar beside the beach and were met by the by now all too familiar "j'arrive" from the waiter. After a brief walk to strech our legs we pedalled back to the coach to pack our bikes and start the journey back to Paris.
The beach in Cerbère.
The day in figures
Distance: 97 kilometres
Climbing: 620 metres
Time on the bike: 3 hours and 6 minutes
Average speed: 31.3 km/h
Black graph: Altitude (m)
Blue graph: Speed (km/h)
Red graph: Heart rate (beats/min)