If we have to cross the Pyrenees, we do it right through the middle – that’s how we roll! It sounds like a joke about people from Bilbao, and even if it feels like it, that’s how we just did it: climbing up to a road that goes 1802 meters above sea level. These was one of the highest mountain pass I’ve cycled, and for Goiznabar and Javi definitely the highest, longest and hardest.
In Pamplona we stopped for two days (and three nights), where Gabi and Ainhoa hosted us They could not have treated us any better ( thanks a lot!). And as they are vegan too, we cooked quite a lot, because of this soon I will post the first local vegan recipe in the “Vegan corner”. Last week, while we were there, was the running of the bulls, but as I’m not interested in it, and we were not in a party mood, we didn’t pay much attention to it. But it was fun to see everybody dressed in red and white.
At the same time they hosted a couple who has lots of experience travelling by bike. Javi (who reports his trip at bicicleting.com) has been travelling for 3 years, and Natalia joined him a year ago in India. Fortunately they shared their wisdom with us, gave us lots of advices and told us some tricks, and great places that we have to go through. One of these suggestions was to climb the S. Martin mountain pass.
The plan was to get from Pamplona to Isaba, to be able to sleep in France the following night. As you can imagine, we were not completely successful. First of all it takes us hours to get up and get ready, so it was past noon when we started. Later we stopped a couple hours for “lunch”, so we had to camp 30 km before our destination. It was ok though. We found a place next to a river, so at least we could take a bath after the long, warm and sweaty day.
The following day was the “fun” one. Again we were very optimistic, but we didn’t reach France. The last mountain kept going up, and when we thought the road couldn’t get any higher, the next curve proved us wrong. When the sun was about to set, somebody’s legs (I’m not going to say whose) decided that it was enough for the day.
At the end we camped in an amazing place, next to a mountain refuge, and when we started cooking, the cooker broke. I hope we can fix it soon, maybe in Toulouse. We slept perfectly, and the storm didn’t bother us at all, our tents seem to hold very well.
Today we managed to finish climbing, and when we got to the top we found a huge party. It was a traditional place in which both neighboring villages, one in France and the other in Spain, exchange three cows, or that’s what we understood. Up there an elderly couple recognized us from TV, and got their pictures taken with us.
The rest of the day was uneventful apart from our great attempts to speak French. We try our best, but nobody else seems to realize in which language we are talking. When we were already thinking to set our tents, it started raining very hard, and we got soaked.
After a while thinking what to do, we returned to the last village, where they are letting us sleep at a school. The town seems to be on the 14th of July, the French revolution anniversary celebration. So I saw some fireworks, while the others were already asleep.