We had to do the the very first part o todays cycle in the car as it was a tunnel 5.5 Km long through the mountain as we head towards Andorra and No bicycles, pedestrians, horses and tractors allowed. We are In the Pyrenees on the Spanish side. As we get through tunnel going down we saw 3 hot air balloons. I love to see them. I remember when The safari park in Bewdley used to host a ballon festival and my little Angels ( as they were then) and I used to watch them from my bedroom window.
As usual i Played cat and mouse with the Cyclist until we came to a little town. I stopped to get a baguette from the Patisserie. It had the lowest stocks of any I have ever seen, I guess every one had been up early for their bread etc. I ony stopped as the sat nav said we were on that road r 22km so I knew I would ave time pop in and catch the cyclist up. It took me 15 Km to do so though.
I saw an island in the road with canoes on as its a well known place for white water canoeing. i waited and I waited, then I phoned him. He said he had already gone though. But how? And When? I was in front of him when I stopped! He was waiting up ahead as there was a tunnel and he wanted me to look at the sign to see if he could cycle through. He could and so off he went. The other side of the tunnel was the border with Andorra.
The Andorra border control was very busy and cars were backed up going through customs past police etc. it was just li,e the days before cars started putting the circle if stars on number plates and before the Euro, when we did holidays years ago. When I eventually when I got there they stopped me. A police man stuck his head through the passenger window and asked where I was going (Andorra obviously!) and where I was from. Once I started babbling on in English about following a cyclist and the Vuelta he got dis interested and ushered me on. Little did I know at the time that this tactic was to ay dividends again at a later date!
First long 30 mile climb went all through Andorra which was a long drag upwards through its towns, then over other side of the mountain to the a french border. The route was back to Andorra though the mountain but again no bicycles allowed. I said to The Cyclist that he Still 3 climbs to go so why go back up this one on an already tough day and make it one more. So. We put the bike on the back and went through the tunnel where he got it back off as soon as we were in the light. the towns at both borders were chocka block full of tourists spending without vat. Especially on cigarettes which is of completely no interest to me. I did The Cyclist a crusty bread sandwich and he went on his way to the next climb.
On the way down the next climb i called and Spoke to MM_Scimitar. He was feeling a little bit more upbeat as the doctor had given him some pills to help him get some appetite to eat. We were on the phone for ages and even The Cyclist had quick chat too. In fact it was such a long call That i went through the wrong tunnel coming out in completely the wrong place thus losing The Cyclist. The phone call was through Bluetooth on the Garmin, but as the Cyclist had shot off quickly, I decided to ignore the sat nav and chose the tunnel I thought it should be. I set the Garmin to a way point on the next climb and it got me there, where I waited for ages still on the same call. After a while I thought that he must be in front if me so I set off up the climb. At the top there was still no sign of him so I did a U turn and went back down to wait some more. No. Still no sign so this time I set off back up the climb with a view to keep going on the route as he must be way in front. It was odd though ad the rest of he route was only about 30Km so I had let some miles somewhere. Again I was still on my call.
I got up the final climb with just 3Km to go and stopped. There is no way he would be that far in front. So again a U turn and back down the mountain. This time I was going to retrace my steps back up the previous one. I couldn’t call him to find out where he was as I was still on the previous call. Andorra is a tiny principality so he can’t have got far surely. But this is coming from the one who lost the Cyclist on the island of Ischia in Italy, when there is only one road around it. On the way back down the mountain I said my goodbyes to Nanakatz and MM_Scimitar and tried to call the Cyclist. Answer phone. Three times I got it. That was worrying.
Going along the main toad to go back up the previous climb I saw him. Cycling along in tne opposite direction towards that final climb.Ii cant express the relief I felt. But not for long as he was not best pleased that I list him as no cycles through the tunnels and I had passed him but not seen him, so i left him trying to navigate without maps or sat nav. he sid he hadn’t cycled up the previous mountain for nothing do he put the bike on the back and told me to drive him back up the mountain for his summit photo. He cycled back down and started his route again. All this ace us after to the top of the last climb where our hotel was also. It was a italy steep and some of the hairpins were so up and tight I just about got the Meriva up. The view at the top was lovely and it was so quiet.
We were staying at the Parador. The owner was called Roxanne and she only ad 3 rooms. It will be a squeeze up here next week when the Vuelta descends in it. Roxanne cooked us a two course dinner and it was absolutely lively and all home made. I asked what the vegetables were I ad seen growing on he way up the mountain and that she had in her garden. Tobacco. What? Yes, the locals grow it to smoke themselves. Mmmmm. In this tax haven place of few rules it made me wonder what else they grow?
Driving away from home – it’s immaterial
Bedsitter – Marc Almond (him with the full stomach no less).
Oblivious – Aztec Camera
Airport – The Motors
Calling all the heroes – It Bites
Impossible – James Arthur