Cool Green Valleys and Boiling Hot Spanish Plains – Argelès-Gazost – Encamp

We left Argelès-Gazost at 9am after a massive sandwich at a nearby Boulangerie. Definitely better value for money than the hotel breakfast. It was overcast at first and nicely cool as we whizzed through flatter French scenery with long sweeping corners, even longer very straight straights and countless small villages. It was nice and good going, but not as epic as the high mountain passes of course.

11:30, time for a coffee break a third into the journey at Luchon, a ski village with green towering mountains around and the highest Pyrenean peaks sticking the tops out behind.

More tree covered mountains and twisty roads followed as we made our way up to Col du Portillon, passed straight over into Spain once more, not bothering to stop, views weren’t that good compared to what we had seen before. We rather stopped at a lovely viewpoint at Vall de Gerber (yes that’s Catalan) and had our sandwiches in the shade of a information poster, clock saying 2pm already.

Rich rather wants to ride than stop and look at the view.
Rich gunning it around a corner
Vall de Gerber
Looking forward to the way back down

The way down from the viewpoint was of course full of tight corners and switchbacks again. Simply fantastic.

Once down in the valley, we rode through endless ski villages, one just the same as the last or the next for that matter. It was getting hot and hotter, Rich’s temperature dial on the bike showing 36C as we entered Sort. Geez, I could deffo feel it, when 90kph doesn’t give you any relief it’s definitely hot. Even with the jacket open and everything.

Brief stop for fuel. Nice view from the petrol station.

In Sort we left the C-13 and entered the N-260 to go up yet another pass and into the next valley/plain. Twisties, swtichbacks and long sweeping corners most of all. This was my road!!! Not too tight so I could gun it (my version of gunning it is still quite tame, haha). Gosh it was amazing. Shame it was so boiling hot, that we could hardly stop. Also Rich’s helmet intercom had now run out of juice so I couldn’t even ask him to stop for photos. A crying shame as views were simply epic! Very high mountains in the distance and views for hundreds of miles over the valleys. I managed to take a quick photo or two, but as soon as I stopped sweat was running down my back and arms in little trickling rivers.

Village on a hill.
Eeeeepic road that!
Sit there for 2 minutes and you’re cooked through.

Down the other side it was basically switchback after switchback with a few tight corners thrown in for good measure. I feared my brakes overheating, but luckily they didn’t.

Home stretch now on long straight roads through a few Spanish villages, it felt more like New Mexico or something… endless roads and insane heat. Bikes’ fans were now going despite us riding at like 60-90kph. Hot, hot, hot. Sweat was running from my arms into my gloves and I had to take my knees and legs off the bike, as I felt its heat burning through my clothing.

The Andorra border had actual border security, luckily we got waved through. It was busy here and very different. High towering mountains left and right and lots of petrol stations. And I mean a LOT! One after another basically. Ten minutes or so later, Rich’s phone he used to run Google Maps on shut down due to overheating, so we had to stop by the roadside in the shade to cool down. It was then that we realised our phones didn’t have any data roaming. Huh. Andorra is apparently not part of the European Union. Bugger. So phone with cached map had died and we had no data.

Time for a short break to have a sip of water, charge Rich’s helmet intercom for a bit and figure out what to do.

Andorra. A new country for both of us.
We’re hot, we’ve been robbed of internet, but still having fun.

Luckily my phone still had the route to the hotel on, no details really but we could just about make out some major roundabouts and places to go past to find our way into Encamp. With helmet intercom once more up and running, I now took the lead counting on my map memory. Stopped a couple of times to double check, but we made it into Encamp easily, only to be stopped 0.2mi before our hotel by a road closure. Ah!

Trying to find our way around we ended up in super tight and steep cobbled alleys, at one point with stairs at the bottom. I could just about halt my bike, but it took the two of us and all our strength to push it back up. Did I mention we had full kit on and it was like 33C?

Lucky we didn’t drop the bike we eventually found a way through the maze scouting ahead on foot before committing.

At the hotel 18:30 and so so relieved we had made it. Phew! Checked in, parked bikes in the hotel garage, showers and then out for food.

Passed a few bars/cafes but then saw a nice looking restaurant advertising craft beer. Turned out to be a fantastic find. Enjoyed a Belgian blonde after another belter of a day and the place turned out the be Argentinian run offering a mixed platter. ASADO!!! Whoa, convinced Rich to carve out the 18 Euros it cost each and boy was it good! Just as good as the stuff I had in Argentina. Finally! I had been desperate to find it anywhere outside Argentina and in Andorra of all places I got lucky.

Rich was a convert after the first bite, haha. We stuffed our faces, had another beer and generally just a fantastic time at this place. Super nice waiters, although they got a few things wrong, but couldn’t really blame them.

Asado!

What a day once more. Such varied landscape once more and the longest ride of the trip so far with nearly 300km in one day. Shame it had been too hot to stop a few times more, but we both really really enjoyed it. the Argentinian restaurant was clearly the highlight of the day. Good times!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s