On our second ride in Andorra, the local tourist office provided us with a guide for our ride. Inka was a lovely Spanish girl who spoke good English and was a pretty mean bike rider. She took us up the 2,302 mtrs high Port de Cabus – for us a climb of 1,141 metres over 18 klms averaging 6.2% but with stretches up to double that gradient. I found it the toughest ride of our trip so far. In all, I rode 42 klms in 2 hours 50 minutes for an average of 15 kph. Although the scenery was not quite as spectacular as the day before, we rode to the Spanish border at the top of the climb.
After leaving Argeles Gazost, we drove partly across and partly under (via a very long tunnel) the Pyrenees to the Spanish town of Jaca where we planned to stay 2 nights on our way west to Andorra and Girona. Jaca’s history dates back to the 11th century but it was most famous as a 16th century military stronghold against a possible French invasion. The city is a combination of old and new, with narrow streets lined with modern shops and outdoor restaurants and a population of about 13 thousand people. Our first night there was very hot and when the air-conditioning turned off at midnight we sweltered. In the morning we headed out on a 54 klm ride into the lower parts of the Pena Oroel, a mountain overlooking Jaca, 1,769 mtrs above sea level. The ride up wasn’t too severe at a average of about 6%. I rode for 2 and a half hours at an average of 21.5 kph, ascending 833 metres. Unfortunately on the downhill, Glenn, one of our very good riders, crashed off the road and broke his collar bone and a couple of ribs. Unbelievably, he rode back to the hotel before being taken to hospital. That night we returned to same restaurant as the night before to sample some different delicacies on the 16 euro 3 course menu. On the following morning some of the group headed out for another ride before we packed our bikes into the van. I chose to ride the short but steep ride up to the old fortress above the city and was rewarded with spectacular views of the city and surrounding countryside. Then it was off on a 5 hour drive further west to Andorra.
I didn’t really expect to be riding my bike again in France, but when Andrew (our tour leader from 2017) emailed me an invitation to join the 2019 trip to France and Spain, I jumped at it.
It was just 4 days after the passing of my wife Merryl, and I knew I’d need a goal to work towards in the future months to help get me through the difficult time that was follow.
So, after quite a few months of training, I’m ready to leave for France on 12th July.