Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Riding in France, Part un of deux!

Bro & I in the rolling hills on the way to the Pyrenees
I know I still have to post several race reports, especially the Windham World Cup, but sadly my life is such that my time is spend elsewhere (that and my windham performance is nothing to write about!) I will post it eventually though... most likely right about the time when really it's just a distant non important memory (shame the UCI has not renewed their contract for 2013!).

What I didn't want to let pass is my experience riding in the Pyrenees w/ my brother this summer.  It is the best cycling I have ever done.  EVER!  And that was even though it was on a freaking road bike.  The rides there were just absolutely amazing.  Someone said that the difference between driving through and riding through an area is that in the first one, you are just a mere observer, while when on the bike, you are part of what you are ridding through.  This was so true!

We were located in Biarritz, a southern French resort town on the Atlantic coast in the Basque region.  We would need to pedal out of the city but quickly entered small rural roads that would wind through the countryside and over rolling hills.  We headed south each time, because the Pyrenees were in that direction.  Every turn and hilltop would show how quickly we were coming to the mountains, and often required a stop to fully absorb the amazing scenery and to try to capture it on our phones.  This post will be mostly about those pictures, since pics ...1000 words...  Also, though I have posted many on FB, I wanted to have them all together in one post.

Ride 1

This was a short warm up .  No major climbs and just getting the legs used to being on the road bike again.  We rode to the base of the Pyrenees but did not go into them.  Scenery nothing to scoff at:

Ride 2

This was quite scenic.  We rode into Spain and stopped at a village called Zugarramurdi. They had the Spanish witch trials there.  Village was very cute with an old church.  Again not much climbing and skirting around the taller climbs.  Lots and lots of Spanish riders of every age out.

On the way to Zugarramurdi.  Pyrenees still in the clouds. 

Gorgeous view of the red rooftops and Atlantic Pyrenees.

Gui taking in the view w/ Zugarramurdi in the background

When we got back to Biarritz, had to stop for an xpress and take in the Atlantic Ocean!

Ride 3

This is one of my favorite downhills in the whole wide freaking world.  You ride up this crappy road to the top of a col on the French side (quite long!), and the moment you cross the border into Spain, the pavement is smooth as glass.  The road dips quickly and snakes all the way back down.  You can see through most of the hairpin turns so you can really lay off the brakes.  Sadly the road was still wet from previous rain w/ some green slime on it.  So it was not a full out balls to the wall descent like two years ago when we rode it, but still amazingly fun.  At the bottom you find the little sleepy town of Etxalar, which is really postcard quaint.  Then you have to climb back out and down the French side, which turns into a pretty hairy experience w/ many blind turns and loose broken pavement.

That is what remains of the French/Spanish border!
A look into Spain at the top of the Col

Coming into Etxalar

Etxalar church

Beautiful village of Etxalar

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