Alex Bikes

Ottawa bike politics.

Day 1: Biking into France, the hills have started.

Figueres, Spain to Rodes, France

130km with 2000m of climb

The normal first day of a bike tour starts with thinking if all the things you wished you’d have brought. And it ends with thinking of all the things you shouldn’t have.

The goal of the day was to join up with the Pyrenean Raid route. It technically starts on the coast, but I was coming from a different angle. So I was heading north, using pretty good maps but without any real perspective of the terrain. I didn’t figure it would be this hilly already.

It was really hot. After 10am, there wasn’t a single moment the computer thermometer didn’t show more than 30C. And it was often around the 37C mark.

Around the 50km mark I was starting to worry. I’d gotten up to 950m or so, and could tell heatstroke was close. But I stopped quite a bit, and finally got enough of a downhill stretch getting into Amelie-les-Bains. Then it was straight up again, but this time under cover of trees.

Heading back up from 200m to 800m, I ran out of water at the 80km point. But I spotted this waterfall with a virgin Mary statue and a fountain. It could have been a religious experience.

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I stumbled through the rest. I got concerned at one point when oncoming motorists started to give me the thumbs up. What did they know about the terrain that I didn’t? But it was because they had just driven up the hill I’d be going down. The last 30km were actually just fine.

I had planned on stopping near Vanca, but spotted a stall selling fresh fruit and vegetables. He didn’t think the yellow peaches were worthy of my money, and I had to turn down the free peaches and nectarines. I am not sure what to do with a kilo of fruit. But I don’t feel much like hauling it up Col la Perche tomorrow.

I had a good feel about the place, so wandered into the town of Rodes, and asked around until I found a gite, which includes cats. I had this great 4 cheese pizza and half a liter of wine. All good.

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And now I am aligned to the existing route I intend to follow, 640km to the Atlantic hitting the major hills. And it starts tomorrow. We’ll see how far I get, but this is where the hills really start.

 

 

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