Monday, November 24, 2008

Becareful what you wish for...

It has been an amazing few days. The canal was so quiet, flat and peaceful. I am glad I met Jean Claude and Hisuk who told me about it. Defintely the easiest days ride so far and I would of loved to go all the way to the coast but my heart was set on Andorra in the mountains.

Fleecing the books

I made it to Dinier and Cecile house, only supposed to be 40kms, I of course took a wrong turn and made 65kms over the hills in pitch dark. What a night, we had a beautiful meal of duck caserole, I mean divine, plus cake for dessert, plus some mint tea. Got to wash all my clothes too, my waterproof socks still stink though haa.

Two of the most helpful and friendly people I have ever met

Their house was just about as cool as they come, up in the hills of Mazere, an old farm house. Inside was just crammed with books, CDs and Ceciles photography some of which was from Ireland so I was loving that. They are the kind of people I would love to bump into again on the road somewhere.

For my next adventure I am getting one of these

So it took another two days riding to get to the foot of the Pyrenees, wonderful valleys to cycle through. I met a young couple Juan and Fred who are just back from NZ and are looking for work in the ski resorts. I gave them a patch to try repair their uni cycle but the tube was fooked so no joy. Fred made me a delish cup of coffee and we chatted about the usual travel stuff, Fred had cycled through Estonia with a backpack celotaped to her bike because she could not afford anything better. That is the attitude I love, do what you have to do. I got about as close to the actual climb as I could and then made camp down by the river. Slept well and dreamt of all sorts of crazy scenarios of what was going to happen the next day on the climb.

The meeting of the waters!

I woke up this morning to find that it had snowed overnight, a fair old dump too. Thats when the nerves started. Everywhere covered in snow, and this is at the bottom of the climb. I am gonna be found out, I am no cyclist, I am a fake with skinny legs. I was all packed up and fed and ready to go nice and early at 7.50am, this was only the second time I have got up really early, the last being when I dropped my bike in the Welsh lake!

Dinner with a view

So began the hardest day of my journey so far. God almighty I have not been so exhausted in all my life haaa. Ah it was pretty hard but sure I am able to come into the internet cafe and right this so obviously there is still a bit left in the tank haa. It was about a 20km climb and it started off with a blue sky. Sweating away and I am thinking its hard but I didnt come here for hard, I came here for extremely hard. Well some god somewhere heard my thoughts because not fifteen minutes later the clouds closed in and the snow came and it brought its friend Mr. Wind.

It was not sugar

Haaaa it got so hard I thought I was gonna have to chicken out, I was going so slow. I could barely move the bike forward. That was when I relaised that my rear brake had clogged up with snow and frozen solid. It was one of the those thank fuck moments, so I disconnected it and the ride got a little bit easier haaa.

I wanted cold, well I got it

Eveything froze eventually, the teperature droped so fast. Water in the bottles turned almost solid ice, undrinkable. I could only use one gear, thankfully I had it in first all day haaa. It was a dream come through, it became extremely hard. I loved every freezing second, seeing the Andorra sign made me shed a tear, which quickly froze to my cheek.

Just ticking another box

That was up, down was actually another 10 degrees colder haaa. I was pumping my legs as hard as I could just to stay warm. I got around the corner into Spain and it warmed up exactly as Spain should do eh.
Hot as it gets ladies

So ends my mountain adventure. There was no way in hell I was going around it. Its easily the hardest thing I have ever done on a bike. I did not listen to a single song on the way up, I did not want any help from the Chillies or Snow Patrol. I wanted to do it alone. I read about an old school Irish climber who climbed one of the hardest mountains in France with only a ham and cheese sandwhich. So in his honour I only ate bread with fig jam today. Like Tom Sawyer would do on an adventure, you gotta add a bit of class to it haaa otherwise it aint no adventure you can be proud of.

I wanted all four seasons and I finally got the full winter, if only for a couple of days. I can not even imagine how you could face a winter in Siberia on a bike. I have been looking at the same map for weeks, finally I have made it into Spain. I absolutely loved every second of France, the people, the food, the roads. It is like I am leaving behind a part of my soul with everyone I met. BUT I did not get a single French kiss, so it was all for nothing.


Tony said...

ha fair play.... you won't forget that in a hurry i can imagine. love the ice on the goatie and the snow on the bar of the bike. says a thousand words. keep on living the dream

Emo said...

I hear Spanish girls are easy....enjoy! :)