We have had a busy week, with lots and lots of rubbish weather, but some amazing mountains and lovely emergency places to stay when I had a hissy-fit about camping in the cold rain again. We have also adopted a new habit of singing together as we ride, and have been practicing a lot of weather related songs (heavily featuring "It's Raining Men"). We have also now ticked off countries no. 2 and 3 and are now in France!
Early last week we had an incredibly epic experience climbing the N260 from Biescas to Broto, to Puerto de Cotefablo (1423 m). The rain turned to snow as we climbed and the world turned white. Before the top the road was covered in snow and cars had started turning back, but we pushed on and made it to the top before suffering through a freezing wet descent. Climbing through snow is amazing, descending is awful. I actually ran a lot of the descent, pushing my bike, because the road was all snowy and it kept me warmer.
This was the start of the terrible weather, days of freezing rain, which resulted in me throwing a wobbly and demanding a few Airbnb/hotel nights. Costly but worth it. We stayed with some lovely people in some beautiful places, and I didn’t freeze to death overnight. Jim has been sleeping in only his pants still, and I’ve been wearing 2x thermal leggings, 3x thermal tops, my down jacket and a hat. So you can see my problem.
We have wound our way through two incredible gorges, and dipped over and under the snow line as we climbed and descended many mountains. The N260 has treated us to some amazing roads, through truly epic mountains, and given us a ton of hairpin climbs and descents. It’s been ace.
The bad weather has meant we have had to pack in our usual supermarket carpark lunch and have been treating ourselves to some nice bar/cafe stops. Enter a bar full of locals when you are soaking wet with a helmet on and the response is great, people halfway through their beer and lunch are moved and you are parked in front of the fire or radiator, asked what you want to eat and laughed at for being silly enough to be riding in this weather!
We finally got some sun towards the end of the week, as we dropped into a huge mountain-lined valley then started the climb into Andorra (country no.3). Spain was lovely but the rain and cold was really starting to get me down, so it was nice to be warm again, and see what Andorra was like (we had no idea).
The main road through Andorra is just one long climb, from Spain to France, ending at the Port d’Envalira, and it’s weirdly built up, huge shopping centres and business parks hedged in by the most amazing mountains. We stayed with John, our first warm showers host, who was lovely, well worth the climb up to La Messana, and who gave us lots of good advice as well as letting us sleep in his beautiful house.
The climb up to Port d’Envalira was epic, our highest col to date (2408 m), and by the tops it was a total white out, and the snow drifts were at least 2 meters tall. Near the top is a ski resort called Pas de la Casa, which is a duty free on top of a mountain. Really weird. Andorra was lovely but odd, and a great climb, but we paid for it dearly on the descent into France, it was too foggy to see properly, and totally freezing. However by Ax-les-Thermes it had warmed and brightened up. Vive la France!