This is where my ambition ran away from me a little. I rolled on back to the turning which takes you toward Superbagneres and thought to myself, "you've come all the way here, why the heck not?". By way of background, Superbagneres is a fair brute of a climb that lasts 18.5km in total - not a climb I had contemplated on doing when I flew out to the Pyrenees on Monday. Chris told me earlier in the week that it is only 1km shorter and climbs up only 200m less than the Tourmalet. "If you can climb Superbagneres, you can climb the Tourmalet" he said. With his words running through my head, I thought I'd give it a crack.
The gradient is a fairly steady 8-10% after the first 6km but it is the sheer length of the climb that makes it tough. Mentally riding within yourself for 90 minutes is not easy. But the views of the climb easily distract, there were huge mountain ranges to be seen over the border to Spain and with plenty of hairpins I really did feel like I was accomplishing something. In actual fact, I thought it easier to climb than the much shorter but much steeper Portet d'Aspet.
There is a ski station at the top of Superbagneres and I got some strange looks off the skiers on the slopes. But that made me feel all the more cool - I had got to the top under my own esteem, they had used a chair lift!
One more thing - the descent. What a descent! There are long straights in amongst the stunning views and switchbacks that mean you can really fly down the mountain. I was getting braver and leaning further down towards my handlebars and even registered my quickest speed on a bike (a rather pedestrian 67kmh may not seem much in comparison to the pros, but I felt like I was flying!).
I cannot understand why the TdF organisers don't visit that climb more often - I had a great time climbing it and the views in places were beyond words. Getting up Superbagneres gives me plenty of confidence going forward. I've only been riding a bike seriously since December, so if I can drag myself up 1800m in mid-March then trust me, anyone can!