The reason I decided to go through Pyrenees goes back to the time when I was in Paris, with Ali Mohanna we were looking for a restaurant and finally we decided to eat in an old restaurant from 1685. we were there to experience Paris ambiance. An Irish couple was next to us and we began to talk. Fidel and Philip ..a lovely one. When we were going to leave restaurant I gave them my card and they kindly invited me to stay with them if I pass through their town. I came back home and looked at the map,..I knew which I will be in Biaritz which is on the south west of France and it was exactly in the same level south but east and to get through I should go through Pyrenees, a range of mountain which stretched all the way from west to the east between France and Spain. My way of traveling is just to go with no information and no fixed plan. Just let see what is happening and follow it. Now I knew where I am going to and I began to find some information about it. I made the route and checked it via Bike Route Toaster !! I had so many passes on my way and almost 10 000m of climb in total. Not that bad and I should be ready for it. The very first thing I did was to leave all unnecessary things I had to lose some weight. Even I left my extra trousers and I left there just with one pair of trousers.
But still I had too much and still I was too heavy.
I left Biaritz quite late on Friday, sometime around 12 and I began to cycle. Weather was just great and I was so happy to be back on the road again and cycle. first I had a little bit of flat road and soon after I began to climb. It was till fine and quite easy which I saw a little road on my map connecting two main roads. I decided to go through that little road .
there were no cars passing in that road, so quiet and peaceful, but climbing hard. it was so steep and quite hard to ride but I was fresh, happy and in that beautiful nature I could do whatever I wanted. I had so much power then. I had enough food and I knew which I wont reach any place to buy food, just I needed some water. I continued cycling till 8:40 and still I didn’t find a nice place to camp.
I should admit that it is very important for me to camp somewhere nice, beautiful and clean with a nice view. I am quite serious about it, that’s why sometimes I search for a place to camp for hours and till totally get darks. I also needed some water which I didn’t find it yet. Finally I found somewhere where they have water for animals and I just filled my bottle there, I had to trust that water and I just could boil it before using. I pitched my tent somewhere at the top of a hill when sun was almost gone. It was peaceful even though a very strong wind was hitting my tent. I fixed it quite firm to prevent making too much noise by wind but still it was quite a lot.
But honestly with that strong wind and the sound of it on my tent still I had so much peace, I was in the nature where I am belong to. I was hugged between mother earth’s arms and covered under her shadow. This feeling honestly is growing and day by day I feel it more. Before when I was in the cities I was quite fine but not I get bored quite soon and I need to go back to the nature soon again. In the morning I woke up with sound of horses around my tent. I came out…all covered by clouds underneath. I was above the clouds and there, an ocean of clouds down in the valley. Beautiful… I was not in hurry.
I was planning to spend 8 days in Pyrenees and I had to cycle almost 90km a day, so I had enough time to enjoy nature. It was around 9:30 which I packed and began to ride again. My day started with a climb in a steep hill. That day I had the hardest pass of Pyrenees to climb. I was quite happy to do them first and leave the easy part for the end. Col de Marie was the pass which I should climb that day. 10km climb and last 4 km was 13% !! that’s a lot and so hard to climb a hill with 13% steep. It known as the hardest climb of Tour De France.
honestly I would say which last 4 km was killing me, but no way!!! I had to go forward and my way is always ahead. I knew which I won’t reach to any town and I had to provide enough water, milk and food down in the valley. So I already had 4kg extra weight including 2litter of water, 1 litter of milk and food. when I arrived at the top again it was sunset and I could cycle down for 15km and find a place but just at the top I found a wonderful place to camp, I hided myself under a tree and pitched my tent facing to the mountain where I could see rays of sunrise at the top of white mountain in the morning.
Third day began with a long downhill and a climb after that. One of the highest pass again, Col de Abusque which is 1760m. I began to climb and after few hours I was almost at 1400m and I had 150 m to climb to a village and just 200m afterward to the pass. A truck stopped on the bend of road and when I was passing him, he asked me for my destination!! My answer made him laugh. He replied “ pass is closed !! no way then! You should return. !” come on man!! Are you sure? I asked again and he said YES!!! And he drove off. The village was there and I decided to go to the village. I cycled uphill for more 2 km and just 300m before the village I met the same guy who was collecting some fire woods. I stopped and he smiled! Before he began to talk I told him, “ the pass is closed, let at least have a coffee in the village !!” he laughed loudly and said “ village also is closed!! No ones there! Just if you want there is a hotel in 4 km where you can have a coffee!!” it was not worth to cycle that road to have a coffee!! Ok ! I am here now at the end of road! I looked at the map. I had more 4 km to go over 2 passes and then almost 20km down hill which failed, so the alternative was to go back down to the valley, where I began to climb and make a big detour over 60 km and climb some more hills to get back to the same point!! NO WAY !!! I had to do that and I did. I cycled back and I followed another road to turn around the mountain.
I knew Col de Tormalet is also closed and I had to turn around that one too. No way and I should do it. It was the only option in front of me. a little mistake that day made me to go through a wrong road again and cycle more 15km which I had to return!! I was laughing ..it was the day of detour!! I had no water and not food. Just I had some muesli and soup and even no bread. I kept the hope to reach somewhere and find something to eat. I was passing a farm which the man working there yelled at me and waved his hands while smiling. I stopped and I felt here I where I am going to stay overnight even still I had some little time to ride more and find something to eat. I asked him where I can put my tent at night? He pointed at the top of the little hill in his farm and said there…I just asked him for water, at least I could have some tea and some soup at night. He said you go, I will send you some water. I was there trying to find a flat ground to put my tent which a little boy came with a small back pack, he could speak English and I could speak a little of Spanish which was enough to communicate.
He brought me some water and showed me a place to camp where cows couldn’t come around at night, just he asked me to be aware of dogs at night. a beautiful sunset and a bright moon was my prize that night. I was inside the tent ,,too tired I was. I told myself that I wont even cook some water to make a tea. I am too tired and just I want to sleep. I will have something to eat tomorrow.
Now I just need to rest and I cant open my kitchen at all. I was thinking of this which the boy came again. He was carrying a plastic bag. Passed it to me and said his mother send me some foods. I get out of my tent and walked till out of field where his mother was waiting for him. I went to say thanks to her. To tell her how I appreciate their kindness.
Smilingly I walked back to my tent with lots of food and in half an hour I was just dead. another day, more climbs and more beautiful road to ride. it was day 4 and I was cycling all day long again to turn around 2 big mountains to get back again to my route. A normal day … Day 5 and my day again began with a climb. A hard one again. Going through Col de Aspin. As far as I was cycling through Pyrenees I was falling in love with it. I didn’t want it to finish even though I was getting more tired and my legs were more cramped but it was amazingly beautiful and I just wanted to continue. that day I was feeling really stinky, I needed a shower. My head was itchy and I really needed to wash it. Finally I stopped somewhere by the road where there was a little stream coming down from mountain and I washed my head there and I cleaned my body also there.
It was so cold and fresh but wonderful feeling afterward I had. So good and natural. that night I didn’t find a place to camp and after a long downhill I was passing through some little village where there were no place to hide and camp in the wild. It was almost dark which I stopped by a house where a lady was working outside. Usually in France most of people don’t speak English, so hopelessly I asked her if she knows anywhere I can put my tent.
Lorance speaked very well English, great!1 she told me there is a campsite a few km before that and I said NO!! I am heading this way and I cant go back even 2km. she smiled and said, “ you can camp in my garden. Go and find a place and when you are done come inside to eat with us!!” I was so glad and in half an hour I was ready, I changed my cloths and I was inside to have dinner with them and we had a long chat that night. In the morning I took a shower and after breakfast we kept chatting and finally I left at around 11am. one more day to ride before I could arrive to Prast De Mollo where Fidel and Philip are living. I was almost done with the passes but it does not mean which I didn’t have more climbs. Even the day which I had no pass still I should have climbed almost 1000m in total. My bicycle was almost broken. The chain began to stop working properly and crank also had lots of noises. It was day 7 and I had to cycle quite longer.
I cycled almost 135km before I could camp. My body was still working quite well which was great, but not my bicycle. It was full moon and I was searching for a place to camp. Sun was already gone which my mum called me. I stopped side the road to talk to her while moon was above my head and the road was so quiet and almost empty. We had a lovely talk with my mum and then I found a little road off the road. Behind the trees there was a vast grass land where I could put my tent and enjoy moonlight. It was quite warm and I didn’t need to use cover of my tent.
I was lying inside the tent gazing at sky which was full of stars and a big moon. I didn’t want it to finish. It was such a moment I would like it last forever. I was thinking how blessed I am for having this life and being able to experience these nights. Thanks GOD for all I have in my life. beautiful and warm sun in the morning woke me up and I began to prepare breakfast and pack. It was the last night of camping and I could reach my final destination inFrance which was Prats de Mollo and meet Fidel and Philip. Again I cycled 130km and 980m of climb even though there was no pass on my way. My chain was totally done and I couldn’t climb a hill even with 5-6% steep and last 10km I had quite steep road. Rain began and I was totally wet.
Luckily it wasn’t that cold and I just was enjoying it. I was expecting to get there around 8:30 but with that rain and chain it would take me a bit longer. Philip called me and offered me to come and pick me which was wonderful. After 130km and climbing 980m , then rain and broken chain!! It was the best I could have. I kept cycling till he came and picked me for last 13km. I was there in a very big house in the forest. A house which was a hotel before and now my friends were living. It was beautiful one with no sound of any cars, traffic and any sign of city where I could feel the nature even inside. Just nature, mountain and forest and of course lots of animals were around.
I was so happy to see them and have some times with them. We had dinner all together, rice with rabbit. It was wonderful. Fidelma and Philip offered me to stay one more day which was what I really needed. I was a bit tired after 7 days cycling uphill and camping and needed a day totally off, sitting by the fire in front of chimney to get warmth. Next day with Philip we went to the village to walk around and see something around the place. I was almost sure that my chain will not work at all and it wont take me up to the pass, but I was thinking which I will try! If it works then I will go through the pass and if not , then I had to cycle back all the way to the coast and take the road from the coast to Girona. It was very risky climbing with that chain anymore. in the morning it was raining hard and it would make difficulties dabble.
But Philip told me he can take me up to the pass! It was again the best offer and he drove me up to the pass where I could see snowing again. I said goodbye to him and I began to cycle down….a long downhill under snow and slowly rain. It was cold..bloody cold at the top but after 30 min it got much better as I cycled down to the valley. after all those up and down hill and having some rain my break paths were also gone!!
I was laughing as my bike was almost finished, no break paths, no chain, crank, casset and 2 broken spokes!! I was just praying to take me to Girona where I could at least fix it before I keep cycling in Spain. ! it was crazy going all those very steep downhill with almost no breaks. Again doing some crazy things.
I think I lost my rims as break paths had just a piece of metal left and when I really needed to stop the bike I should use them and they would take some pieces of metal off from the rims. Finally finished, 8 days of cycling, 7 nights camping in the nature, 810km riding and almost 9600m climbing. I got a new idea of beauty after cycling through Pyrenees. I am here now after all those lovely days in Girona with Marta, a friend who I met 5 years ago in New Zealand. 29 April 2013