All good after 55K as we hit the first climb, the Col du Marie Blanque. Only a 10k climb, but the last 2k are a 12% grade. Felt very good during the climb, we were in good shape. Off to the Col du Soulor, a 22k climb at 7.5%. No problem, feeling good. Hit the top of the Soulor in pretty good shape and the descent was AWESOME. Hit the Trek Travel rest stop at the bottom of the Tourmelet and up we went. By this time, I was starting to get a little tired and it was HOT. We moved on. This was a timed event and we were 1 hour 30 minutes ahead of the grim reaper. The Tourmelet is a freaking BEAR!! I thought last year's Ventoux climb was the most difficult I have ever done. The Tourmelet was just as bad. No switchbacks, and relentless. I start to fold like a lawn chair, and cramp up. Thank God for the people along the course who were dousing us with water. I must have had water poured over my head a minimum of 30 times goings up the mountain.
Trek Travel rest stop with 10K to go. I really did not want to leave. Had a few Cokes, a few nuts, and we were back on the bikes. I struggled all the way to the top. We finished in 10 hours and 43 minutes. As we got to the end, once again it was Tania waiting for me. I actually thought that after trailing my wife through five l’Étapes in a row, perhaps this should be my last. Not. I’ll be back next year with the goal of not dying on the final climb.