Total ascent: 1340m
Hours in the saddle: 3hrs 50
Terrain: mountain, then rolling
Today started with something I hadn't seen for a while..the sun!!! I couldn't believe it..it must be about a week since I saw it last. Perhaps today I could get away with a few less layers and be less Michelin manny?! Well let's not get carried away..this is the mountains after all, just ditch the leg warmers (or sausage makers as I like to call them), the water proof, winter gloves and the booties. Leaving 'just' base layer, jersey, wind gilet, track mitts and shorts.
By half 9 it was 20 degrees.
The start of the ride was in theory the easy bit..a potter along the valley to Isona, before heading up the mountain. But boy I was in a grump, and it was hard work getting anywhere. Ridiculously so, so I stopped and checked..and I must have hit the bike at some point in the last day or so as the front brake was rubbing on the wheel. Doh! Fixed it and retightened the bolt to make sure it didn't happen again..but became uber paranoid and was checking it all the time after. Sigh...
Anyway it wasn't til the climb that I settled into the ride and lost the grump..a good mountain climb cures most evils I did notice though that that valley to Isona was amazingly beautiful. The mountain climb too. Almost breathtakingly so. And no that was not just the effect of the sun as by the time I hit a quarter of the way up it disappeared. The lack of the low lying clouds maybe... They were all back up on high where they should be. Actually the whole route today was very beautiful, and even previous days (though I have failed to really spout on about it due to lack of umph). The Spanish Pyrenees may be less well known that their French counterpart but am not entirely sure why. The foothills and their valleys are certainly incredibly beautiful, the snow mountains too. I guess I will see when I do the 'other side' next week.
So back to the climb..ah it was a goodie..it was actually two colls ..the first was a lovely 5-8% with views down and across the valley the whole way. Near the top it levelled off to 3-4%, very nice of it to let me enjoy the view more! There was about 20 or so eagles circling near the road there which was quite daunting..was it me or was there a dead body there or something?? Oh got to love an overactive imagination. After the first col it was down a little and along, before heading back up again to the Coll de Boixols..there was even cyclist signs giving you nice warning of the distance and gradient,7-8% basically. Then the coll sign with a fantastic view over the next valley.
At the mirador, I stopped to take a few snaps and put on my layers again. There was one other cyclist that I had seen ahead going up my way, and two who had come up the way I was going. It was these two that I would play leap frog with the whole way down to Coll De Nargo..much to our amusement and entertainment. It was a fantastic long and smooth descent. Back on the main road north to La Seu d'Urgell...along a lake and then following the river up and through a gorge and valley. After the climb I was happy just to potter along and enjoy the views and the sun which had decided to reappear.
One thing about the descent though..being Sunday the weekend motorbikers were out in force as per usual. What was not the usual was that one guy had come off on a corner just before me and my new friends got there. He had his group with him and they were looking after him, and soon three police cars and an ambulance sped up the mountain. The ambulance siren sounds like a duck and gave me quite a fright when it came round the corner. He was sped off to hospital shortly after. Actually I have seen more accidents or after accidents in the last few weeks than..well ever at home. In Toledo I saw a boy hit by a car after he ran out into the road (he was fine), and in Leon walking into the Plaza Mayor I came across an ambulance and the largest pool of blood on the floor just there. I shared a look with the ambulance guy, while he waited for the street cleaner to come by and hose it away. Not sure I like this new trend.
On a lighter note, my hostal has a fab view over the mountains and I have a nice balcony to sit on and appreciate it. I think I will be pretty much settled in here for today and tomorrow..being Sunday La Seu is pretty much closed down today, and tomorrow is storm day. It's not a bad place to be stuck in though..there is food and beer. They even have a movie channel in the common area and I just caught the end of Dead Poets Society...I have not seen that film in years, but even in Spanish it made me cry.
Oh and today was also my last full day touring in Spain until August, when second half back starts, which is a really strange feeling. It's gone so quick but looking at a map, it's quite a distance covered in that time. I feel like a bit of weight has gone from my shoulders, it has been an awesome couple of months but I am looking forward to a change and not to have my panniers nor any planning for a bit! Though to be fair I still have two days left until I completely stop this part of the trip..tomorrows day off and Tuesdays ride into Andorra and on into France..but I am going to enjoy it today anyway