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    • Day 71

      ...Bergab, Bergauf, Bergab

      July 9, 2023 in France ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

      Wir haben es geschafft! Nach 269 gelaufenen Kilometern, 14577 erklommen Höhenmetern von denen wir auch wieder 13928 Meter bergab gerollt sind, haben wir unser Ziel erreicht: Saint-Lary-Soulan.

      Der Weg war wunderschön, aber auch sehr fordernd und anstrengend. Wir hatten wunderschöne Panoramawanderwege im Sonnenschein, aber auch nasskalte Passüberquerungen durch aufgeweichte Schneefelder.

      Besonders schön waren die vielen kleinen Bergdörfchen durch die wir die letzten Tagen gekommen sind aber auch die Refuges mit netten Menschen darin, die uns mehr als einmal vor Regen und Gewitter bewahrt haben.

      Jetzt geht es auf nach Bagnères-de-Bigorre, wo wir ein kleines Appartement haben und uns der Herausforderung stellen uns so wenig wie möglich zu bewegen ;)
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    • Day 42

      Escalona to Saint-Lary-Soulan

      November 17, 2022 in France ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

      Once again we had a great nights sleep, no barking, no vanlifers and no high winds, it was a peaceful night and we woke up at 7:30am feeling well rested.
      It was raining quite light first thing and I thought my bike ride was going to be hampered by bad weather but by 8 o Clock the rain had stopped completely and the clouds were breaking to show blue sky and sunshine.
      Ellie made breakfast. I had Wanda toasties, and then I got my bike off the back and loaded it up with my water bottles and at 9am I was ready for the off. I had, had this road marked off to bike ride for ages and finally I was doing it, it was a proper dream it, plan it, live it moment and I was quite excited. Ellie wasn’t coming so I said I would take photos and my plan was to take it slow on the way and take pictures and just ride on the way back. I knew I had some climbing but I thought the view would distract me from that.
      Within 5 minutes of setting off I had already stopped to take photos, one of a huge waterfall and another off a bridge of the river and mountains. I pushed on, rounded a bend and the road started going uphill but the view of the canyons, rushing river and snow capped peaks of the Pyrenees made all the difference. I didn’t push myself and dropped to a nice low gear and plodded along enjoying the view. As I rounded the next bend I noticed the road was completely blocked off with a barrier and lots of warning signs. This was a nightmare come true for me.
      I rode up to the barriers and the sign specifically stated no walking or biking. Obviously you couldn’t get a motorised vehicle past the Barriers other it would have said that to. They really didn’t want people going down that road.
      I decided to throw caution to the wind and through the bike over barrier, looked around to make sure no one was coming and then jumped on it and set off. I hadn’t brought my bike all this way just to turn back now and unless the road had been washed away I thought my chances of getting through were ok.
      I was now on a closed road, a dream come true because I no longer had to worry about any traffic and I was rewarded with a magnificent view riding alongside the river with the road twisting and turning, going over bridges and the mountainside overhanging the road at just 3 meters high. There were huge rockfalls along the way and parts of the metal crash barrier were completely flattened and at one point half of the road was missing and the barrier was hanging in mid air. Obviously that’s why they stopped people coming down here.
      The road was only single track all the way down and it rolled up and down, and wound round the mountains following the river, I was in the canyon de añisco and it was everything I had hoped for. For 12km I had waterfalls, mountain views, switchbacks and even tunnels.
      Just before I reached the very end of the road where there was a car parking area I stopped behind some trees to take it all in. It had been a slow uphill all the way here but it would be a fast downhill all the way back and now I knew the roads were closed.
      I set off and almost immediately I was in my highest gear. I was travelling at 35kph I was holding the brakes until I got past the rockfall areas and the missing piece of road after that the only thing I had to contend with was wet roads and lots of slippery leaves. After the missing piece of road I put the hammer down, passing through the last tunnel and coming out the other side doing 65kph. As the roads were closed I didn’t have to worry about on coming traffic and I took the racing line into every bend leaning the bike right over and once I was straight I was peddling again. It took me 12 minutes to get back to the barriers so I had 11km of the ride back over with already, then I just took it easy for the last kilometre until I got back to Wanda. It had been a great ride, I had climbed 1239 meters and reached a top speed of 65kph and finally ridden one of my dream roads.
      Back at Wanda I got changed straight away, hooked my bike back in the back and we made Wanda ready to leave, then after a quick coffee we set off for France.
      We were heading through the tunnel de Aragnout, we had passed through this tunnel last year but from the french side and passed through a beautiful Pyrenees ski town so I had marked it off as a stopping point this time.
      We passed through the tunnel which took around 12 minutes and then we started descending, down through the mountains, around hundreds of switchbacks and hairpin bends until finally we were at some kind of ground level and in the town of Saint-Lary- Soulon.
      At first glance it didn’t look anything like the town from last time but later I realised we were on a different road, and this time the town was dead and everything was closed. It still looked pretty though and we had found an airè du camping car here and we needed water so we thought we would use some money on our camping car card stay here and get some electric aswell.
      We found the airè easily and pulled up to the barriers and Ellie jumped out. It didn’t actually say I was an airè Du camping car on any signs but it did say that on park4night. Our camping car card didn’t work so Ellie just ended up using the credit card, it was €10.50 to stay here and an extra €2 for water and electric. We paid for it all, the barrier lifted and our first port of call was the dump and fill station. We emptied the grey water and the toilet and that’s when we realised there was no fresh water. Gutted we went and parked up and that’s when we found out there was no electric. I was proper peed off because the machine took our money and there’s no one to complain to. Luckily the sun was shining so the solar is doing it’s job. Without the solar we’d have been in real trouble. The saving grace is that the airè is quiet, has amazing mountain views and we have a river running right behind us. It’s very scenic.
      After settling in we went for a walk into the town, it’s definitely a ski town and most of the shops are closed up now until the first couple of weeks in December. Then the snow will come and the tourists. We counted 4 churches which seems overkill for such a small town and luckily we haven’t heard any church bells yet considering there is so many.
      Back at Wanda we made dinner and settled in for the night. It looks like we were the only ones stupid enough to pay to stay here but atleast it’s quiet and we like having the whole place to ourselves.
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