Cycling Tour Pyrenees – Spain and France – Week One.
Day 1 Tuesday 19th July 2016.
After leaving home more than 30 hours ago with B1 and B2 fully packed and correct weight, we’ve landed in Barcelona and met C1. Then a drive north west and we’ve arrived in beautiful Ainsa, Aragon, Spain.
Exhausted but nothing a good beer, some tapas, some red Rioja wine, the full moon, and views of the Pyrenees couldn’t fix. #travel #travelbybike #spain #ainsa #pyrenees #food #tapas #rioja #wine #travelling
The story from here will be told by the bikes themselves M1 & M2.
Day 2 Wednesday 20th July 2016.
Introducing the cast:
M1 Gris Merida Ride 7000 road bike with discs sleek charcoal grey with red highlights. Ridden by Jen.
M2 Rojo Merida Ride 5000 road bike with discs racey red with charcoal highlights. Ridden by Greg.
B1 multicolour EVOC bike bag for M1.
B2 sky blue EVOC bike bag for M2.
C1 Hertz hire car picked up in Barcelona. Opal Astra hatch.
M1: “Free at last. They finally got us out of our bags at dawn this morning. Saw the sunrise over those big hills- think maybe the Pyrenees we keep hearing them talk about. Got put back together again. Air in tyres and everything connected. Just a little spin to check us out. Then wheels off and lots of talk about how to squeeze us into hire car. They drove today to Anso. From all the OMG’s we heard from the front seats must have been a pretty speci drive. Town of Anso pretty special too we think. Got to stay in back of car for Anso. Probably best place for us today. They were pretty giggly when they came home tonight!”
Day 3 Thursday 21st July
M1: “Well today we were put to work. THEY (my girl Jen and M2’s man Greg Banfield ) thought it would be fun to check out of hotel, move car 200 metres, unload us, put our wheels on (they even put their Lycra on and filled the water bottles) and ride up the Anso Valley to Zuriza. 15 km up but that makes 15 km down too whizzzzzzz! Could hear a bit of puffing from my Jen when the grades hit 8-9% but she kept my pedals turning. Even had to cross a cattle grid and slow down for road works. She laid me down in the grass a few times cause she kept wanting to take photos. But that’s OK. We lead the downhill run, just have to hope she remembers we have to stick to the right of the road!
They needed a coffee back in Anso and we were ‘walked’ through the cobbled streets. Much gentler than being ridden over those street rocks. Then wheels off, back in car and driven over the mountains to Pamplona. Night M2.”
Day 4 Friday 22nd July
M1, M2 & C1 (that’s the car): “rest day for all of us. Last night they drove us into this underground cave and booked us in for 2 nights while they stay above ground in a comfy hostal opening onto the most happening street in Pamplona (after 8pm that is). They decided to use their feet today to explore this interesting and historic city most known for its Festival of San Fermin and the bull run. 2 nights of bar hopping tapas and vino, watching the passing parade of communicating community.” With Greg Banfield
Day 5 Saturday 23rd July
M1 checking in: “this morning they came and found C1, M2 and me and drove us back into the light. Farewell Pamplona. The humans seemed to think you were a pretty interesting place with lots of good tapas and wine. He (Greg Banfield) was determined to take us for a spin today. Wise She read the weather better and told him “the tops of the hills are in cloud, we won’t see anything and it is probably raining up there”. Needless to say he drove C1 up this sheer cliff with so many switchbacks we didn’t know if we were Arthur or Martha in the back. Parked in the amazing forest and with the briefest of clear moments silly she said “let’s do it”. So out we got, wheels on and off along what started out to be a lovely road through the forest. Down came the rain for rest of the ride (just to remind us of home). The road turned to rough limestone way more suited to M3 & M4 who are snuggly locked up back home. Rain, cow shit, puddles, baaa they said finally and turned us around. She aimed me at all the puddles on the way back just to try to clean me up before putting us back in C1.
Now we are like QM1 and KM2 all dry, clean and parked in their room at Zarautz on the Atlantic coast all ready for another day. Tee hee keep this up and we’ll be in the bed next. C1 is just outside!” PS bank holiday weekend in Zarautz similar to long weekend in Dunsborough.
Day 6 Sunday 24th July
M1 with today’s news: “After breakfast it was time to explore the near neighbourhood. Well we started going uphill, the road was hardly wide enough for a single car, looked and felt like hand laid cement with gutters across every 50cm. Up, up and up we went. My Jen keeping an eye on our Garmin and calling the score. 12, 13, 14 and up to 17% gradient. I think it even stopped registering at one stage. My front wheel had a couple of moments of lift off but she put some more weight forward and kept touch with the ground. I was worried about her heart rate. She must have been too as a few photo stops were called. Finally it was time for a descent but she was a bit tight on my disks and didn’t give me my head. Then a final nasty up again to get back to start. Don’t think I’ll be doing those roads again.
Then they left us and took off with just C1 to see the sights of San Sebastián/Donostia. They were late home”.
Day 7 Monday 25th July
M1 with today’s breaking news “set off in C1 with M1 & M2 in back. Drove the Basque coast road. G & J taken with its beauty. Green hills rolling down to rugged Atlantic coast with coves and river inlets. Getaria, Zumaia, Deba, Mutriku, Ondarroa, Lekeitio and finally to the historic town of Gernica (Guernica). Things/places seem to have multiple spellings and words here. Makes navigating tricky. We enjoyed this ride in back of C1. Gernica was used as target practice in 1937 by luftwaffer during Spanish civil war. Picasso created famous piece depicting the evil. Oak tree very special.
Nice lady at Info told them a good road to take us to. Got my wheels on again at Loiola an went through to Bolibar and return. 6-7% hills 30km so at least 15 km up hills. Good surface for my wheels, little traffic to annoy, downhills pretty extreme with switchback after switchback. She was happy and rode well so did Greg Banfield. Good day for all. They went down town for more of that pintxos y vino they keep banging on about. All I need is a bit of air and chain lube! Night M2 & C1 see what tomorrow brings.”
Day 8 Tuesday 26th July
M1 reporting: “I think a challenging day for our Jen & Greg Banfield today. They had plans to take us for a ride in the country … BUT … Heard funny sound from C1 on way down hill into town this morning. Sure enough that C1 failed us with a flat tyre. They managed to drive it to a safe spot. Unbelievable – no spare or jack in C1. Oh then a joy ride for us up onto the back of a tow truck and off to San Sebastián to visit the Hertz people. They couldn’t possibly just fix a flat tyre.
SO I’m introducing STC (Skoda Team Car). Bye C1 you were cute.
They J & G decided it was a beach day in Zarautz to swim in the Atlantic, walk the beach and watch the passing parade.”
Thoughts for the week:
Rolling green hills, high Rocky Mountains, looming Pyrenees, hydro dam, Ainsa, sunsets, full moon, chapels on hill tops, towns on hilltops and very windy, mountain streams, stunning coastlines, narrow roads, lack of Spanish language by us, Aragon the romantic kingdom, Basque Country, hillside farms, harvesting, maize, irrigation, vineyards, olives on terraces, square bales stacked high, misty clouds on mountain peaks, rock arches over road, noise of crickets, butterflies, vultures soaring high, stone houses, geraniums, hydrangeas, thunderstorm & rain, forests of beech, fir & pine, river swims, Anso, Valle Anso, hidden valleys, Pamplona traditions, Pamplona night life, bars of Pamplona, monument to the Encierro ( bull run), city walls, hikers on the Camino de Santiago, Bos Urbasa ride in rain, old towns, steep valleys, sadness of Guernica, oak trees, beach paseos or promenades, pintxos, tapas, beer, wine, jambon, different body clock, eat after 9pm, light till 10 pm, Donostia (San Sebastian), Zarautz, lots of people walking, donkeys, dogs, Gipuzkoa, Getaria, Zumaia, Deba, Mutriku, Ondarroa, Lekeitio, Gernika, Loiola, Munitibar, Bolibar, beach, walk, sunshine, happy people.
Quant in the approach. And the first week has been a wonderful (literally) experience