Col de Peyresourde

One of the most hard to climb mountains on your bicycle is the Peyresourde in the French Pyrenees, some people told me. Somehow that's always a big motivation for me to try out something. A couple of old cyclists told me the night before I've planned the trip terrifying stories of guys who didn't made it and had to stop on the so called "Field of Death", stranded just with the pass in sight. Well, as you can imagine, that aren't the stories you like to hear before what is supposed to be a nice ride through the countryside!
Anyway, I must admit I was a bit scared the more I reached the "Field of Death" only to find out it's a nice green field and I was almost whistling when I drove by. So far, so good. The climb turned out to be a long, but manageable one. Although I was a bit worn out when I reached the top. It's just a pity that this years edition of the Tour de France don't pass this pass...



One of the prettiest climbs I've ever made, was the climb to the top of Col du Tourmalet back in the summer of '96. It was the last day of our stay in the French Pyrenees and the weather was just perfect: sunny, no wind and nice temperatures. Although I'm not a great climber on the bike and will never be, I enjoyed every bit of it. I can even remember a great part of that day. For instance the paragliders who've started on one of the slopes near the top. That was the first time I saw paragliders and I felt immediately for that sport. Or the fellow cyclists I spoke during the climb. There were even Americans from California, trying to ride the famous mountains of the Tour de France: Peyresourde, Col du Menton, Aubisque, Tourmalet, Portillon and so on and so on. A bit to much, I guess, but that's what Americans are known for ;-). At least they were cycling their way to the top. Unless the numerous guys that passed by in cars with their bikes on the roof, only just to make the descent. Cheaters!


Illustration Friday Unfold

I find it always one of the greatest rewards about reaching the top after climbing a mountain, by foot or by bicycle. The view you get when you're almost completely exhausted: a landscape which unfolds to a breathtaking panorama. That is: if the weather cooperates. Mostly the top of the mountain is hidden in clouds, so you're lucky when you get to see the tip of your nose through the fog. And it's so freezing cold that you're only thinking about one thing: the quickest way to get down into the warm weather in the valley below.
Once I climbed the Col d' Aspin in the French Pyrenees, by bicycle. One thing I remembered about that climb was the great amount of campers passing by on my way to the top, leaving me behind in their exhaust fumes. Struggling to reach the pass and for some fresh air. So the drawing is a bit more romantic than reality was: no campers in sight, only a clear blue sky!


Col d'Aubisque

As I was looking through some old sketches and photographs, I found a set of photographs I took in 1996 while touring the French Pyrenees by bike. As a sort of reward after a long and hot climb upwards, I made photographs of the signs that are standing on the highest points.
We were riding through the Pyrenees on our bikes and tried to climb all the famous cols the riders of the Tour de France have to take. Of course we weren't as fast as the professional cyclists ride, but I'm sure we had much more fun during our "Tour de Force"!
Just a few weeks and then the Tour de France starts again. I can hardly wait.


Essential equipment

First rule of paragliding is: safety. So before I go out for a flight, I check every detail of my flying gear. It's very important to have your equipment checked, at least the night before, so you don't get surprised the next day at the last moment when you're about to take of on some mountaintop and realise that there's something not working.
It's also very important to take care for another big issue when you're about to fly: water. I once forgot my waterbottle and landed far from the landingspot. So, finally, more than two hours later on a hot summerday (we always fly at hot days because of the thermals) I arrived at a little village closest to the place I landed just to find out that every store was closed because of the middaybreak. Luckily there was a fountain at the villagesquare...
So, from that day on I always look after a sufficient watersupply along with my flying gear. Two waterbottles, just in case one get's broken.


New work

May has been a very busy month. Not only started my wife at her new job, which meant a big break with the schedule of working days she had at her old job, but it was also the month that I had a short holiday-break on my own. That is: without wife and kids. That's something I experienced the last time for about seven years ago. Besides that the workload at the office reached a new hight, so you can imagine that I, sadly enough, didn't have much spare-time left for drawing.
Unlike my son who made a special drawing for me because he missed me during my short break. So, instead of some poor drawing of my own, let's enjoy this wonderful piece (out-of-his-head!) of daddy ready for taking off at paragliding.