The (Motherf!@#kin) Pyrenees!!
- 30 July 2013
We took a couple of weeks off cycling after the Santiago to Seville leg, we were both feeling pretty worn out physically and mentally, there’s something about packing up your whole life and moving somewhere new every single day that takes its toll after a while.
So from Seville we rented a car and did a little road trip to Barcelona where we put the bikes into storage and flew to Ibiza for a week and then Dublin (just to mix things up). Both places were awesome and the trip did exactly what we wanted it to, by the time we got back to Barcelona we were hanging to get back on the bikes to attempt our toughest challenge yet and something we’d been nervous about from day one, The Pyrenees Mountains.
The first part of the trip just out of Barcelona was pretty flat but we could see the mountains on the horizon slowly getting bigger, like sleeping giants getting ready to squash us. It wasn’t long before we were in the thick of it, grinding our way up steep winding streets that didn’t seem to end. One stretch was so steep we had to take a break every twenty meters and even cars were struggling to make it up. Our estimates on how far we’d get per day turned out to be slightly optimistic, we thought we could do 60km/day since we’d been regularly cracking 90km on normal terrain, the real figure turned out to be around 20-30km and we were absolutely buggered at the end of each day.
We didn’t mind this leg taking longer than expected though, all the hard work was constantly being rewarded by spectacular views, and because we were taking the older less direct roads there were some days we hardly saw another soul, it was like we had the whole Pyrenees to ourselves.
In total it took us seven days to reach the top of the main pass (also the French border) from Barcelona, and all up there were three passes on the route we took - 700m, 1000m and finally 1500m. We were originally planning to wild camp at the top, but as soon as we hit the French border it started raining and we had to rug up with our jackets and rain coats for the first time since we’d crossed over the other end of the border into Spain about a month earlier. We started to wonder if France had something personal against us.
The weather wasn’t bad for long though, and even when it was raining the ride down the other side was blissful, 60km of downhill where the only muscles we were working were our fingers on the brakes. The views on the French side were even better than the Spanish side, although we think this may have something to do with the fact that we weren’t busting our arses anymore. We took a few photos at the start but then decided to put the cameras away, sit back and enjoy the ride.
We crossed The (Motherf!@#kin) Pyrenees!!