There is nothing like a 5-star rated difficulty (there are only 5 stars....) stage. Stage 2 was a monster. Fantastic weather treated us as we awoke and it stayed beautiful all day. My morning started with a great breakfast, but then after that things got a little hectic.
Due to some logistical issues mine and Dave's bikes were late getting to Pau (we had a bus transfer at the end of stage one). The bikes were there in the morning, but when I went to pick them up they were not ready for the day. I had paid France Bike Rental to wash and ready my bike, but apparently they ran out of time (they made good after stage two and did a great job cleaning my bike, so that was nice of them). Dave's bike needed new tires and he needed a longer stem, but that wasn't done either...here we go, let's just say that the next 90 minutes was pretty stressful and I got to the start line with 2 minutes to spare.
The ride was amazing and the Col D'Aubisque was my favorite mountain to date. The views were spectacular (and I was climbing like a beast so that helped too). The last climb of this 4-mountain day was so hard. I had a few tough mental battles with myself along the way. I was riding with a couple guys and at one point got dropped. As they were heading up the climb leaving me behind I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Funny thing however with these events, you can go from one minute feeling like you want to quit to the next being on top of the world. I somehow found my game in the last two km and bridged back up to them, small victories are what get you through these really tough days.
I'd like to give a shout out now to Dave Barr. His story is really awesome. He only started riding about a year and a half ago. Since signing up for Haute Route he has lost 25 lbs and has really became a solid cyclist. As you know if you've been following our trip Dave's bike hasn't shown up and he's been on a rental for two days. He has hardly complained and if you've ever used a new bike you know it always takes a bit to get the bike fit adjusted right. He had some knee pain and back pain day one, but we've managed to sort that out. I can't imagine doing something as hard as Haute Route on a bike that you aren't used too. Dave had a great day yesterday and sits comfortably in the top half of the standings after two days.