Wednesday, August 27, 2008
July 22 Sort SPAIN to Sant Llorenc de Morunys SPAIN 118 K / 74 Miles , Coll del Canto & Coll de Jou
Another perfectly blue sky in the Spanish Pyrenees. In fact I would be blessed with 4 perfect days in a row. Not a cloud. In the afternoons it would get pretty hot. But at the high elevations I was cycling at the air was cool. At the 6 or 7 tunnels I passed through I could stop and the air was coming through the tunnel so it felt like standing in front of an air conditioner. Cool, eh!!! The Spanish campgrounds are not as nice as the French ones. And they are not in or near the center of town. They are placed on the outskirts. I love the way the French system melds so well with cycle-touring. EXCEPT FOR ONE THING. France, as well as Spain, and I guess all of Europe, shun the dryer. You know, as in washer and dryer. Not one campground has had a dryer. And many have no washing machines. They all have plenty of wash basins to do your clothes by hand. Then you hang them to dry. This may work well with car campers who have 2 weeks worth of clothes for a one week vacation. If it rains you just grab some clothes from deep in your car trunk. But a cycle-tourist has 2 cycling shorts, 3 shirts, 1 hiking pants, 2 pair socks....get the point. You gotta clean ém and DRY THEM. But you can´t. So what'ya do? Enough ramblings! Today I had two Cols to climb. I started the day drifting for about a mile through the town of Sort taking in the noises. The Spanish are noisier than the French. Kind of like Americans. Or is it that the French are just quiet. Once I drifted across town I turned left and started a 21K / 13 Mile climb. Good Morning Spain!!! It was at the top of this climb I realized I had entered hardcore wilderness. High desert, very few towns & they had no stores. The descent off Coll de Canto was gorgeous. I stopped in Adrall for water, asked a young lady for the supermarket so I could get water, she says there is no market but "uno momento" and runs into her place and comes out with a 1 1/2 litre bottle for me. Nice people. The next 20K was on more of a main road/C-14, but its´ saving grace was that it had a 3 foot shoulder and was downhill. A super scenic route. A few times the sheer rock faces would encroach on the roadways and the 3 foot shoulder disappeared so I had to be extra diligent not to allow myself to get caught in a blind spot to traffic. Thankfully there was not much traffic. Then I turned onto an especially spectacular road, L-401. It started with a 10K climb to the village of Alinya where I found 8 Russian cycle-tourists shading themselves from the sun & heat of the day. We joked about who I was & who they were. And they invited me to sit with them out of the sun. Most of them spoke with me in English, and very well at that! I took a picture of Dima and Sveta by the village water spout. If you read this Dima, send me an email!!! I pulled out of Alinya about 4:45 and WOW, what a ride. Like the Blue Ridge Parkway with almost no cars for 42 kilometers only I´m in the Spanish Pyrenean wilderness where the road hangs off the sides of mountains and it is straight down for 100.s of feet. Sometimes there are guardrails, other times there are 6 foot long stone walls with 3 foot gaps in between (see photo). I guess they figure a car won´t fit between the stone walls, BUT A BIKE WILL !!!!!!!!! Did I mention I saw an "El Pollo Loco" back in Esterri d´Aneu. Like the ones in Southern California. I´m serious. I wish I had stopped now. I arrived at Sant Llorenc de Murony and my least favorite campground yet. Don´t you just love those gravel tent sites? Church bells do something a little different in Sant Llorenc. They ring 4 times to warn you they are about to ring out the time. And as in France the process is repeated 1 to 2 minutes later. ALL NIGHT LONG!
Posted by Mike Simmons at 1:28 PM