My final day with Jens. We got up at 6:30 or so when my watch went off. We made our fastest go at getting ready. It was a cool morning with great views all around us. However, we knew the work that was ahead of us. We sat at about 1400m and we would have to climb to 1900m twice before the day was out. After ripping out a few more pages of my novel and eating a couple more nectarines, we were on the road. 8am. 15 degrees. 5 percent incline up.
Luckily we had plenty of energy in the morning. It wasn't long before we were in Mont Luis. A cool little castle town at up atop a bluff. 1800m. Jens found a public bathroom while I got water out of the
fountain in city center. The bread store and convenie store were already open, so we stocked up on a little food. We were pretty confident that we were going down for a bit. Hopefully we could eat it all before the next big incline.
After a little stroll through a beautiful pine forest we started to go down. Very fast. We stopped a couple times, but within ten minutes
or so we were already down to about 1200 meters. From this level, I had to start my final climb (Jens would have another after we split). To make things more interesting, though, we found ourselves in the middle of a bicycle race.
The Andorra 170
We were now drawing close to Andorra, and found ourselves in the middle of a road race that started in Andorra la Vella in the morning, went south through Spain, north through France, and back into Andorra from the higher north rim. I guess most of the 200 riders had already gone by us, so we were in with the slow people. We found one guy that we could keep up with for a few kilometers. He could speak Spanish, as could most of the riders, since they are from Andorra.
After a while, we got passed by everyone, including the only female rider and some older men. By the time we made it to the top of the next pass at 1915m the food and rest stop was closing up. Somehow we talked them into giving us tons of drinks, apples, oranges, bread, ham, and bananas. They also gave Jens some advice on getting through Andorra and across the Pyrennes. We then carried the food a few kilometers down to have our last lunch together.
Although there was a cool breeze, the sun was burning us up. Some French picnickers offered us a huge hunk of ice from their cooler. I think Jens used it for his water. We ate more tomato and tuna sandwiches. We discussed what to do with my bike. If I can make it to Hannover, I may leave the bike there instead of Hamburg. I know that Jens would take good care of it and maybe even get some use out of it. He also offered to let mom borrow a bike if she comes over in a couple years. Anyway, we exchanged addresses, coasted further down to where the road splits, and bid fairwell. We were still arguing about American women shaving their legs and other silly things. I don't think we ever really bothered each other in our "discussions." I think our personalities and ideologies were just too similar for us to actually get along well. Anyway, it was a fun four days.
Down to Pamiers
I road downhill for about thirty minutes at 50kmh. Took a nap in a town. Then I coasted down some more until I found some guys returning from a different bike race on the French side of the foothills. I road with one older man for a while. Didn't speak to him. Then I got on a highway which was not for bikes. After a while, I got off and found a quiet town with a campground along the a river.
I had not memorized any phrases for campground check-in in French because it is not in my phrase book. The woman at the reception was very kind though. I had everything set up and finished my cold cold shower by 8:30. Then a couple trailers rolled in and told me that my space was reserved. The French couple in the trailer nearby offered me their "front-yard" for my tent. The other group of younger people started to set up their kitchen, adjust their TV, and do all of the other stuff that is necessary to set up camp for a month or so. Meanwhile, I had told my new French friends that I was from Canada. I tried as best I could to explain about my travels, and they were very kind and interested. After a pizza at the snack bar, I went to bed.