Total ascent: 1010m
Hours in the saddle: 3hrs 50
Terrain: down along a valley, over a blip, then up along a valley.
Last night I had the best meal so far on the trip. I went to the hotel across the road and had..a vat of chickpea, cod and potato soup/stew, mushroom cannelloni, rice pudding, bread and olives and a WHOLE bottle of wine..all for 14€!!! Sooo good food. Just to add I thought that I was just getting a glass of wine, as is norm but no! They left the bottle. And no I didn't drink the whole thing, I would have been on the floor! So if you are ever in Broto go to Hotel Pradas for food, its awesome and they are lovely there too.
After dinner, I needed to walk it off a little so I went up to the river. I hadn't noticed that the weather had cleared up and so when I got there there was a fantastic clear view of the huge monolith of a mountain that lay behind the town. It was a huge butch of a mountain, almost box like, with the snow covering following the stone striatas and had a raw look to it. An awe inspiring sight.
Last night was also a momentous one...for the first time on the trip I had to reach for another blanket rather than the usual shedding of the loads! What is the world coming too.
So yes it was cold, and in the morning more so and knowing that the first 40km of today's route was downhill, I piled the layers on. I think I had pretty much every layer on that I possibly could. And I needed it. The descent was pretty gentle, it was following the River Ara's flow through the valley. It was a very beautiful ride. The rocka were quite visable here and the striata and formations wereamazing. The higher mountains have the horizontal lines, but there were also some with curved.. quite like the Sydney Opera House. It was quite interesting too as there was several abandoned villages along the way. The villages that were left were medieval, set up on bumps overlooking the vales and mountains, usually with a new town lying below. The best example of that was at the bottom of that valley and a town called Ainsa, a beautiful village on an amazing spot overlooking the wide river and the huge mountain to the side.
After Ainsa the road slowly went up, and went towards another huge monolith of a mountain (or maybe it was several mountains merged?). I think the person who designed this road was a sadist...again the road was heading directly to this monster.. no signs of going round it. Gulp. It looked far too steep to go up, but it just kept heading straight for it. Til right at the last minute it banked right and went along up its feet. I mean I know there are turns away, I can see on the map, but I don't trust where exactly these turns will be and I always have a moment of self doubt that I read the route right. Its happened before...
So the half mountain climb started here..a 'steady' 8% er for the first 5km or so. After that it came down a little and for no real reason I felt like bombing it up the remainder. I would say 'sprint' but with panniers I am not sure that's possible. Not that I knew how far was left..it was one of those climbs when there is no clear cut finish. But it was quite fun anyway just to break up the pace. Then descending again. Gah! Have I said how much I hate descending with my panniers in the wind??!! The only thing I hate more is tunnels. No, that is not quite true..tunnels are fine, a little disorientating, but fine. Lorries in long tunnels that's what I hate. Tunnels are loud anyway, but lorries in tunnels..god. And then you have to trust them to give you enough space and not take you out. I remember when I was in the Alps last year, me and a friend were going through a tunnel and got overtaken by two lorries..who then proceeded to blast their horn for funs. Bloody hell! We nearly fell off in surprise. The b'st'rds! So since then I am a little paranoid.
Actually lorries were the bane of the last part of my route too. After the descent, I reached Campo and turned left to go up the next valley. A gorgeous narrow valley. Downside to gorgeous narrow valley being it is narrow. So the road was not large enough for a white line..it was big enough for two cars..just..but because of all the bends the cars took the middle line. You add lorries into the mix and its not a whole lot of fun. Eventually they disappeared and I could actually enjoy the ride. The valley narrowed in further until I was riding with vertical cliff faces reaching up to the skies either side of me. Absolutely amazing.
Since just after Ainsa, the sky was noticibly turning darker and the clouds lower, and I had the feeling I was racing the rain home. By the time I got to Castejon de Sos, you could barely see the hills at all. And when I got out of the shower about ten mins latter, it was torrential rain. Once it stopped I went for a wander along the town to see what's what. And another jaw dropping moment when I saw the clouds had disappeared revealing that we were pretty much surrounded by snowy mountains! Sneaky little buggers! They keep surprising me like that! I can even see them from my room. Its a fantastic sight. Aside from that there is not much here..apparently you come here to paraglide and jump of cliffs and fun things like that. I think I might just leave that to then