Day 14 – Mauvezin (near Tarbes) – Luz Ardiden / 117 km

Derk is dropped at 21 kilometres of the official start and begins his stage at 10.45 AM. Like yesterday Derk skips the first flat kilometres and wins time by doing so. It’s important that Derk finishes today’s stage, because the start of tomorrow is at a completely different location. Because the first kilometres of today are dull and flat ones, it’s better that Derk does them later in the Tour.

The sky is grey and clouded and at times drizzle is falling. From within the car Frans and Wim see how a thin fontain of water is launched by Derk’s rear wheel and then falls back on top of him.

While Derk starts the ascents of his first col, the Col d’Aspin, Frans and Wim enter a nice, warm restaurant, were they order a tasty cup of coffee. While they start their second cup, Derk finds out that de col he wants to climb is closed, because of road maintenance for the Tour de France. Naturally his cellphone malfunctions again and while trying and trying to contact the help-forces he’s just getting more soaked and colder.

Finally Frans and Wim are contacted and drive to Derk’s location. A lot of time is lost while finding an alternative route and finally Derk is dropped behind the roadblock and just has to decent down the col.

The descent is not as easy as always. It is extremely cold and there’s poor visibility because of the thick clouds Derk’s riding through. Making speed is dangerous, also because there are cows, sheep and horses everywhere. The cattle is not behind fences. When Derk finally arrives down the col, he’s hardly able to speak and is standing with trembling knees and rattling teeth.

On top of the second col, the Col du Tourmalet, a restaurant is located. Time for a spaghetti break!

The somewhat eccentric owner has lots of pictures of special bikes and when he sees the rowingbike he comes running out of the restaurant with a camera. Inside are pictures of a wooden bicycle, early Tour de France bikes and lots of other weird types of bicycles.

At the same location a man shows up who works for the Dutch television. He promises to do some promotion at his TV colleagues.

Derk rows up the last mountain, in the direction of Luz Ardiden, without much problems. Compared with the hard, long ride of yesterday, the stage of today was easier and less tiring. When Derk arrives at the camp site around nine o’ clock, he looks a lot better than yesterday.

At 10.00 PM we see flashlights and therefore know that Caroleen and Rianne have arrived with the Rowingbike ambulance. They’ll help us through the last week, while Frans and Wim, unfortunately, are returning to the Netherlands.