Circle of Death Tour - 2013
It's bit tattered and curled at the edges, gets moved from one gentleman's reading room to another, and is well thumbed on certain pages. No, its not a treasured bongo mag, it's the ProCycling Magazine's "50 Greatest Climbs" edition of January 2007, and it has a lot to answer for.
Having just started riding road bikes (before that it was strictly off road and fat tyres), This mag has powered my road cycling ambitions ever since. It featured in its "wish list" section the Independent Fabrication XS, which I treated myself to (awesome frame), and a Scion Aerotech case, which I also ended up having. But its biggest influence over the last 6 years has been the ultimate bucket list of cycling climbs...."50 Greatest Climbs And How They Became Famous"
Its our fallow year for the Marmotte, and the Angliru has been beckoning since 2007; add to that the tours celebration of the Pyrenees in 2012 by revisiting the "Circle of Death" route (Stage 16) , and it was obvious what 2013's challenge would have to be. A repeat of that stage will be the culmination, but our mini-tour will start in Leon, over the Angliru to Oviedo, through the Picos de Europa to summit the Lagos de Covadonga; from there to Bilbao to crest the Puerto de Urkiola, before making our way toward Pau for the main event, the "Circle of Death"...
By definition the “Circle of Death” is the hardest Tour de France stage in the Pyrenees. This route with over 4900m of climbing which includes the Col d’Aubisque (1,709m), Col du Tourmalet (2,115m), Col d’Aspin (1,489m) and Col de Peyresourde (1,569m) is nearly the same route as stage ten in 1910 when the the Pyrenees were first introduced into the Tour de France. Without doubt, the hardest challenge yet, we can only hope to stay in the saddle and not get off and push.
Plenty of training needs to be done, and maybe some occasional training updates and rides will appear before we embark...
For a review of Robert Millar's epic win on this stage in 1983 see this entry
For a list of ProCylings climbs...someone put the list here
Also check out "Mountain High" for another great book of Europes greatest climbs