12th October Mallorca – Barçelona
Let adventures begin. Nice easy day, coffee with WW guys outside ProCycle before thier morning ride. “Re-cycled” cardboard box
Google maps guided me through the backstreets to my cheap n cheerful hotel. I’m sure it will be better in the morning when the drunks have left the steps of the minimart opposite!
13th October Barçelona to Cardona – 66.46 miles 4644′ up 6hr 10m cycling
The overnight rain had washed the drunks away. It had stopped by the time I eventually got my things together at 9:15 regretting the printed route through Spain still sitting on my desk at home!! The red bus guide to Barcelona & iPhone I knew would get me through.
Umbrellas up & rain coat on within 5 mins. Off again 20mins later as I followed the Road north heading always for the mast of Torre de Collserola on Tibidabo hill.
I plotted a straight line from the harbour up to the radio tower. This cuts through several pedestrian areas but as its all uphill didn’t cause any problems. Where they have them, Barcelona cycle lanes work well using the central reservation on the big wide roads.
The view over Barcelona on the way up is good even in rubbish weather
Down from the mast a sweeping pleasant road leads to the upmarket town of Sant Cugat del Vallès. A coffee break here showed my slow progress. 1hr 45 since set off 1hr 24 actual riding 14.5 mls covered. Welcome back to touring pace Patrick.
The town of Teressa was unispiring. A cycle route all through the half deserted town centre did nothing to endear me to the place.
Leaving the town to the north I eventually arrived in open country.
The multiple river, road & railway crossing points at Castellbell i el Vilar looked spectacular-
After my disappointment at the historic centre of Terrassa I decided to give Manressa a miss! I followed the by-pass with the lorries round five sides of a hexagon. Eventually on the north side I checked the map oh! Sh**! Tired & getting cold I went back towards town. At the 1st junction was big Mc.
Now I haven’t visited one of these places since the 1980’s. I was very pleasantly surprised and after a good Caesar salad drinks ice cream coffee all for €7 plus charged up phone had free WiFi warmed through and had smiley staff showing me how to press buttons to order in English. I’m an overnight convert.
I set sail with renewed hope in modern ways only to question the latest ViaMichelin app. It gave me a warning about the cycle routing being beta and not fully tested. Down a rough farm track I gave up on it and cut down to the main C55. Back with the big trucks again I vetoed Súria with its potash factory and destroyed landscape
14th October Cardona-Solsona-Port del Comte– 38.24 miles 4607′ up 4hr 06m cycling
After a good breakfast at the Bremon I explored the tired old town.
I continued north up the busy main road. After an hour of uphill I came to the hotel I had provisionally planned for night before. Good decision.👍 Now on a higher plain I dropped into Solsona. Crossing over the river a large sandstone facade with an arch got my attention.
The road took me to the impressive dams below
Eventually after great scenery made it to Sant Llorenç de Morunys where the Cathars fled to in the 13th C check out : http://www.camidelsbonshomes.com. For background on Cathar routes
The sign to Port del Comte said another 15km past a Coll and up into the rapidly dropping cloud base
I called the hotel, yes,she said just keep going UP and you will find us! I found Hotel Avet at 5,480′ above the clouds in Catalunia. Tired n happy but much later than expected. Great host family with whom I spent the night eating, cracking almonds & chatting until after midnight! Hotel Avet is a good place to be. I’m sure any night of the year. www.hotelavet.com
15th October Hotel Avet, Port del Comte – La Seu d’Urgell- Andorra la Vella – 48.71miles 3598’up (5840′ down) 4hr 09m cycling
For an out of season, out of reach place, Hotel Avet surprised. The restaurant was busy all evening, after the chef rocked up at 8:45. In the morning breakfast was still going on as I left at 9:30 as more hunters turned up with thier dogs n guns. The white dots below show the ski settlement of Port del Comte as I saw from halfway up the next valley.
Eventually over one more Coll
The border town of la Seu d’Urgell is a boring grid of characterless blocks of apartments that could be anywhere in Spain. A burger & coffee served with disdain matched the place & I cycled on without a photo – says it all I suppose. The folks back at Hotel Avet assured me it was flattish from there into Andorra. Much to my surprise it was!
I was joined for a short while by a local club rider who was happy to pace me up into town, until a couple of young legs zipped past past and he took thier back wheel !
I had been recommended the exe princes 4* hotel by a guest at the Avet and at €47.50 b&b set in the centre of Andorra la Vella was a good choice
Parked bike in luggage room and explored a very busy city. It’s amazing just how many people are here stuck in the middle of nowhere. New build all around and lots of expensive shops. Ok it’s a tax haven. But it’s not easy to get to without a helicopter!
16th October Andorra la Vella – Port d’Envalira (8,000′ ) – Tarascon sur Ariege 57.74miles 4533’up (6462′ down) 4hr 51m cycling
I found a back street bike builder Two great guys from Optioncyvles who pumped up tyres oiled chain and weighed everything at 32.7 kg !!
Made it! slowly slowly. Next a long cold run down into França
Cold French cafe welcome as it was 2:35. Still dishing up food but no more for the likes of me! So I stopped at a friendly road side caf in a supermarket car park! Hot sweet coffees cheese n ham sarnie choccy bun & she filled up water bottle with a smile. so I carried on down river to Tarascon sur Ariege. Much nicer place and a warm welcome at the good hotel de la Poste €50 for a room overlooking river.
17th October Tarascon sur Ariege – Foix – Toulouse 66.39miles 283’up (1426’down :-)) 4hr 21m cycling
Sunny start from happy hotel to follow Ariege as the sun slowly rose to clear early morning frosts
What d’ya mean you never saw these before !!
The Lèze became the Ariege on the outskirts of Toulouse, the local cops were busy chatting as a Peugeot squeezed me off a roundabout towards them !!
Eventually made it into a the very laid back town. Music appears to come from everywhere. Jazz, dance n trance all on a Saturday afternoon in October.
Eat your heart out Sheffield tram system! The central reservation has all been grassed over and the trams appear to float from there to here. Cool 👍😎
The ibis hotel is at Pont Jumeau where the three canals merge. Left bike in conference mode and had an expensive nights stay
The walk to explore the night before I failed to identify the actual way to join the tow path I could see !
Off roading with panniers next to deep cold water is one way to wake you up at the start of the day! The tow path full of local joggers on a 10K charity bumble with headphones on also helps the early morning concentration. They turned back over a bridge and left me to quiet , wet- did I mention it he was raining?
The route along side canal Garonne is part of 700km cycle route http://www.canaldes2mersavelo.com from the Mediterranean to the Altantic.
The aqueducts still have tricky cobbled sections are to keep your concentration up
And so I made my way to the very welcoming http://www.le-pont-napoleon.com hotel.
19th October Moissac – Belvès 64.57 miles 3022′ up (2812’down) 5hr 12m cycling.
Cold grey misty autumn mornin, I turned over for another hours sleep! At breakfast chatted with Eric a cyclist from Denmark. At 74 his partner had banned him from riding in the rain yesterday. I wish someone had tried to coax me in a nice warm car! They’re following route St James. We’ll catch up in November to see where we ended up.
The morning ride above Moissac was misty and so the views were non existent. The quiet lanes passed through several pretty villages, each shrouded in mist. Coming down into Monsempron Libos the Sun broke through. Lunch in the square consisted of coffees, from bar full of locals gambling on trotting races, and pre pack salad from minimart across road!
Following the twisty route up beyond the drab ancient abbaye I followed a beautiful ridge road with great views all the way to Salles. Passing big bird traps along the way.
The dots on the map next to Gavaudun didn’t prepare me for the fantastic structure perched on the rocks:
Along the valley the modern village is just as photogenic.
And the tall poplars along the way make sure you remember this is France
The village of Lacapelle appeared to be like a film set with the old cars on the Main Street
10 miles beyond over woodlands of oak and chestnut in full Autumn colours
20th October “the end” Belvès to St Cypien. 10 cold miles across La Dordogne