Total ascent: 1809m
Hours in the saddle: 3hrs 50
Oooof wow what a day!!! Only a short day up the Enivaira and into Andorra but boy do you work for those few km's! I have to say that to start with I was grumbling along..wondering what on earth I was doing cycling and why didn't I just take it easy and do this touring malarky the civilised way??! But as soon as I got past Ax and into the mountains all those thoughts,just faded away and I got lost in the ride. I am not sure why I enjoyed it so much..it's along a buzyish road (Andorra is tax free so a lot of traffic to make the most of the cheaper petrol and shopping)), its not uber tough or uber easy, the sun wasn't out, it wasn't particularly stunning until the last 7km. But it was brilliant and I loved it.
Being a balmy 13degrees for most of it helped, when the sun came out in the last 5 km the temperature rocketed to over 27. I got a lot of encouragement from the cars and motorcyclists going past..lots of thumbs up and 'allez allez allez' being shouted. I only saw two other cyclists strangely..both near the top coming down the otherway both shouted encouragement too. Not that I needed it but it makes me smile and I love the comraderie.
Once past the bend that brings you into sight of El Pas de La Casa and the col itself I have to say I had a huge ass grin on my face. Pas de La Casa is not particularly pretty ..very few ski resorts are..but the whole scene was just incredible. And without the snow it was like a whole new place. How different from the last time where I had to keep stopping to try and warm up and the rocks and greenery were lost to the snow.
Anyway before I lose myself to gushing more about the scenery I will move on..and down to the town of Soldeu where I was staying the night. It is about 8km from the top and unlike many places in Andorra it hasn't completely lost itself to commercialism and still retains some of its own character and charm. I have to say I had little expectations of here..I chose it because its near the col and Andorra is half the price of France. But I like it.
First things first ..food! And making the most of being back nearer Spain a tortilla baguette seemed appropriate. Ah how I have missed that food of hero's! You can't beat it as a refuel and recovery snack. Worked a little too well and after half I had to go back to my room and have a kip!
Before I went I noticed a working cable car up the peak in front of the hotel. So after the kip I headed out to see what was going on there.. Now I learnt several things this afternoon..
- don't wait until the doors are locked before remembering that actually you are not very good at heights and don't have the best track history with cable cars
- if the attendant at the top goes 'ooh well I would be careful now as a storm is coming' you listen and keep the sightseeing to a minimum
- rain, wind and lightning does not make for a happy me in a cable car
All of which resulted in me having a death grip on the safety bars the whole way.
The top was pretty cool though..there was a mountain bike track (they had even customised the cable cars to have bike racks on them), a golf course and a driving range with the best view ever. From what I could see you just whack the ball off the mountain and well that was that! I would loved to have stayed and explored for longer but there is just something about being on top of a mountain in a storm...
So that storm actually went by quite quickly but I am in my room now and it has returned with avengance. Causing me to continually check the forecast for tomorrow when I move on. Its not far..back up the Envalira and then turn off over the Col De Puymorens to Puigcerda but it won't be fun if this torrential rain continues! But most importantly..I will be back in Spain