Total ascent: 1577m
Hours in the saddle: 3hrs 45
Since finishing the Tour de France trip on Sunday it has all been about preparing to get back on the bike and head back into Spain to continue my little tour. When I say preparing, it was really a case of taking 5 min to wedge stuff in my panniers and then a whole lot of sleeping and eating. Actually the most important thing was to get a new pair of cycling shorts as my old ones were becoming thread bare on the derrier and I wanted to avoid mooning the locals more than I have done already.
There was time also to watch some DVDs..mainly Sherlock's first two series which I have watched sooooo many time but it doesn't go old. Prompting for the first time for this trip a download session - season 3, the Lego movie and Fargo series. It's strange that I haven't wanted to before or more rather interesting that I want to now...distraction technique for this transition period maybe?
It is strange..I am looking forward to going and I am not, ditto with leaving Pech. The first part of the touring actually seems so long ago and things have changed so much since. It's going to be tough trying to get back into the mindset and physical demands of the touring again (primarily the former). I have done very little cycling relatively in the last two months. While the bosses are all for going out and almost at times push for it, it is very difficult as a newbie to let yourself. One colleague said to me once..'if you have time free then you have probably forgotten something' and there is also the thought that if you are off enjoying yourself then your co-guide is covering for you. All in all it's tricky to get you head around escaping on the bike even though it's the only chance of a break we usually get. Either way the transition back to cycling with the extra weight of the panniers and on me (damn that cake and wine) will be hard.
Mentally it's tricky too. Leaving behind the security of HQ and the people is difficult. But then weigh that against back to seeing amazing new places and experiences. Then you add in the mindset change to deal with the slower pace, heat and miles. But for this side I am doing my usual..not thinking about it. Its worked so far, don't give yourself time to think or analyse anything just do it.
So bearing all this in mind and also from my lessons learnt on my first day from Malaga all those months ago, I decided to have a kinda prologue before the big off. While I didn't have to leave Pech yet, it seemed right to.. in terms of having everything ready, to check everything worked and to separate myself so I could start to change my mindset away from it. In terms of distance from Pech..well I have ended up just down the road. But I got here via my old friend the Col de Pailheres to test the legs on the climbs, and the balance on the descent with the panniers. It started good mentally zoning out straight away but it slipped back and on several occasions I was close to turning back. I persevered bolstered by some English riders passing by and shouting their support. Making it to the top I stopped to take in the amazing view over the mountains and down the hairpins which I will miss, then set off back the way I came to the hotel.
Somethings here I never get used to and one of those is cafes that don't serve food. I don't get it. Not sure I ever will. Annoyingly this cafe was the only place in my village that could possibly serve lunch (but doesn't). Had to wait til half three for the little shop to open and then a tin of tuna salad with a bagette doubling as food and a spoon. Back to touring food already and I haven't even started properly yet!
Tomorrow I head up to Andorra. Not quite sure of the logic of why I am going there rather than direct to Spain especially as it is a whacker of a 35km climb to the highest pass in the Pyrenees, but it seemed a good idea at the time! Then the day after....Spain!!