Chapter Five – Spain already began two weeks ago and I still need to tell you all about the amazing time we had in the French Pyrenees.
You will have to forgive me for the lateness of my posts and the time delay but the Spanish lifestyle does not lend itself very well to blogging. Internet connection is not a problem. You find free wifi in almost every bar in Spain and at public squares. And now that we have finally invested into an inverter (we should have done this five months ago), empty laptop batteries are a thing of the past, too. It’s really only “quiet time to write” that is lacking.
Pamplona and the start of the Vuelta was our first day in Spain. It was 40C. We left the Tapas bar after lunch and everybody had disappeared. The narrow streets with barriers for the evening team time trial – empty. The buzz of people – gone! The entire following week we observed the same phenomenon. People enjoyed the cool morning air but with twelve noon would come the oppressive, unbearable heat. No breeze in the air and life would stop.
No point planning a ride or sightseeing or anything for the hours between one and six. We started doing as the locals do and held siesta, preferably in a shady spot or bar, or by a lake or river.
When in France or Italy I would always find a quiet night to draft a post, we are now out partying till late at night, just like the Spanish do. And sometimes life just happens. There are evenings with best intentions to write and it looks like it’s going to be a quiet night until we meet that Dutch couple and end up drinking Sangria on the pool terrace till late at night. Or there is the serene evening by the lake, until that German couple shows up, camping as well and from the same town where I studied. The bottle of red came out… and we didn’t see our beds until 2am.
I had no false hopes of getting a blog post out while visiting my best childhood friend in Barcelona.
We did ride our bikes as well and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. North of Madrid now, we rode the Bola del Mundo yesterday. The Vuelta a Espana will be here next Sunday. We would love to hang around to see the Pros tackle this impossible climb but we are running out of time and must press on.
But before I can tell you about the Bola, let’s wind back time to August and France.
The area of Ariege is beautiful. We did lots of riding during our time there, and no partying or sightseeing, even though there are plenty of castles in the area.
We still climbed the Chioula from the Ax les Thermes side, and again, the climb didn’t exactly excite me.
Later that day, after returning to the motorhome to have some lunch and a little siesta, we added Ax 3 Domaines to the day. By now my legs and body seemed to have warmed to the idea of climbing again and I was much much happier. Strangely, the climb also seemed prettier and more pleasant.
Last but not least we moved to Vicdessos, another charming little village some 30km down another valley. From here we explored a part of this year’s Tour de France route, the Port de Lers, which was hiding in the clouds.
While we had a great time in the Ariege region, the cycling here wasn’t the best I have seen or done! It’s certainly worth a visit but for the real WOW factor, we had to move on to Arreau and the big Cols: Col d’Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and the Aubisque and Soulor. More about that in my next post.
It’s siesta time in Spain now!