Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Best Bike Ride in Andorra

As I mentioned in the last blog, Wednesday was the day that everybody but RandoGirl and I were leaving Andorra. Most were going to France -- for a few days in Paris and/or watching a Tour stage -- but some were flying out the next day, back to the states. Mike, Patty, Steve, Joyce, and Karla were sans bicycle now, and so they left that morning after breakfast. Meanwhile, RandoGirl, Connie, Jill, Zita, and I drove our cars over to Massina to ride up to the Port de Cabus.

After we found a place to park our cars, we biked up CG-4 to Erts and began the 16K ascent. It was early enough that the temperatures were still cool, and for once the grade of the first few kilometers were mild.

Just before the ski resort Estacio de Pal, some sections kicked up closer to double-digits. The road was very quiet, however, and shady ... plus, after the rides we had done earlier this week, 10% felt almost flat.

I stopped at the overlook to get a picture of the Storm in a Teacup sculpture. The next few kilometers really were almost flat, so I stopped more times to smell the roses.

At the top, the road crosses into Spain and becomes dirt. I went down the dirt road far enough to ensure that I could say that I had ridden my bicycle into Spain, just as I had ridden my bicycle into France the day before.

Most of the cows grazing on the hillside behind me were wearing cowbells -- a surprising cacophony in such a desolate place.

After everybody reached the top and had spent time enjoying  the view, we started back down.

Along with being the nicest climb of the week, it was also the nicest descent. I barely touched my brakes for the first part, and generally had a blast roaring through sweeping turns and cruising through the little town of Xixerella. We all paused in Erts to regroup.

Then we rolled back to our cars and loaded up the bikes. On another day, I might've then climbed from Erts to Estacio de Arinsal -- another ski resort.

But RandoGirl and I were hungry and opted for food, instead.

When we got back to the hotel, everyone except Connie, Jill, and Zita had checked out and departed for France. We helped the three ladies load up their bikes and wished them safe travels, and then I cleaned RandoGirl's and my bicycles, checking the tires and brakes. RandoGirl and I spent a quiet afternoon before going to the only disappointing restaurant of our trip. During dinner, we planned our ride for the next day -- I would leave early and ride my bike down to Sant Julia de Loria to climb the Collada de la Gallina. RandoGirl would drive down later that morning, and when I finished the Gallina loop we would together climb the hills on the east side of town -- either La Rabassa or La Peguera.

It was a great plan. I wish that it had worked out.

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