Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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Pyrenees & Picos: Day 5

We were spending two nights in Lourdes, so today's rideout was optional. We left the van behind, and our leaders rode two up at the front. Most of us chose to go along, though a few decided to devote their day to shopping or sightseeing. This was largely down to the grey and drizzly nature of the morning.

We set out bravely, waved off by those not coming along, and rode past fields where damp cats crouched below haystacks, awaiting prey.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, the border with Spain appeared, and with it the sunshine. I felt very smug that my passport was in its usual place in the bag at my hip, although obviously nobody leapt out demanding to inspect it.

We stopped for coffee at a bar, surrounded by Spanish conversation and a subtly different atmosphere. Our drinks came with a dish of olives. We sat outside next to the road, and I had a bottle of something called Kas Bitters, which was pink.

Then it was time to head back into the mist and tackle the first of the day's three peaks. As we reached the road's highest point, the sky suddenly cleared, revealing what I can only describe as a 'stunning vista': miles and miles of road ahead, winding in and out of the green and cloud-brushed mountains.


Back in France it was late lunchtime, and most places were shut. I found a bar with an incredibly attractive waiter, who told us the only available food was pancakes. Few of us had any objections to that, and I enjoyed mine, with salted caramel sauce, very much.

There were two more mountains to tackle. The first, the Col d'Aspin, was misty all the way up and all the way down again. The second, and highest, the 2115-metre Col du Tourmalet, was smothered in such thick fog that I could barely see the road, let alone the edge of it. I fought slowly through this terror for ten minutes or so before emerging into an idyllic scene of cows with bells grazing below a blue sky and a ski lift.


From here it was a short but twisting ride to the top, where our stop for coffee and ice cream in the sun was watched hopefully by an ancient, shaggy donkey named Coco.

I bought the all-important sticker for my top box, then we descended. The mist closed around us again, and the group stuck together as we edged around bands of miserable-looking sheep in the road.

In the outskirts of Lourdes, I abandoned my post as back marker for the first and only time (with permission) so I could go and indulge one of my life's great passions: shopping in a foreign supermarket. I returned laden with BN biscuits, crunchy-coated peanuts, and other delights.

In Lourdes, the home team greeted us with the news that it had rained all day.



Mileage: 166.9

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Tags: bikes, hols

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