Into the Pyrenees
09.10.2012 - 10.10.2012 27 °C
We woke up in Monica and Simons lovely spare room and knew it would be the last time as we had to get moving again if we were going to cross through the Pyrenees and get our ferry back to England in a few days time. I felt really rough still, but with the help of rather a lot of pain killers a session on the bike seemed perfectly do-able. We had a quick breakfast with our hosts, said our goodbye's and Monica made us a packed lunch for the road in a typical French style of bread cheese and smelly ham! It was a gorgeous hot sunny day as we rode out of the town of Pouzolles and headed towards Narbonne.
We decided to use this place as a way point and see how far we could get before I felt too rough to continue. Once on the bike and concentrating on the lovely sweeping tree lined roads I almost forgot I was ill and we passed Narbonne with relative ease and decided to keep heading into the Pyrenees and towards Spain.
A brief stop in a lovely square next to a gently flowing river in a town called Quillan provided us with the chance to order some refreshments before moving on again.
We took several wonderful mountain passes...
and a couple of huge descents that seemed to go on for ever....
before we finally arrived in Ax-les-Thermes, a mountain town famous for its thermal spa's. This became obvious as the first square we came to had several people sat in a large hole in the ground bathing their feet in a thermal pool!
We were only a few miles away from Andorra, a small semi independent state which as it was a tax haven would be a great place to shop and fill up on fuel.
The drugs however were starting to wear off and I was feeling rough again so as we had already gotten further than expected, we decided to hole up here for a night and decide our route onwards tomorrow. Jayne went on the hunt for a hotel room while I sat next to the bike and watched people soak in the thermal pool.
I didn't have to wait long before Jayne came back and suggested that the hotel right next to where I was sat was probably the best one for the price. They also had a little alleyway at the back of the hotel where I could hide the bike from prying eyes, so I agreed this was a safe bet.
After checking in and heaving all the boxes to the room on the 4th floor Jayne wanted to go for a walk around the town. I was starting to feel pretty bad so opted to have a lay down while she explored the town.
Jayne returned an hour or so later and I was getting worse. I was wrapped up in everything I owned and under every bed sheet I could find, but was still shivering and felt like I was in a freezer. This wouldn't seem so bad if it wasn't about 22 degrees outside and bright sunshine!
Jayne got me some more drugs from a local pharmacy and sat and read our friend Simon's 'Tea with Bin Ladens Brother' book to me while I tried to get some sleep.
Unfortunately sleep wasn't that forthcoming and at 2am in the morning I was again wide awake and feeling super rough. This was made even more annoying by the fact that our room had a half size swinging door to the toilet that was right next to the bed (poor Jayne!).
We were also positioned right under the stairs which meant right above the toilet was a sloping ceiling that came down to about shoulder height. This meant that every single god damn time I went to the toilet (which was around every 20 minutes) I banged my head on it and shouted expletives!
I think due to my constant jumping in and out of bed (either that or the smell!), Jayne was also wide awake by 3am and after a hunt to find the TV remote was unsuccessful, she sat and read a book on her iphone. I barely had any more sleep and when daylight came I was exhausted. I considered staying on another day in the hotel, but the fear of giving myself a concussion from the low toilet ceiling convinced me to dose up on everything I could find and again see how far we could get.
The decision was made to head north around the Pyrenees instead of south towards Andorra in case my condition worsened and we didn't want to be stuck to far into the mountains.
Again once on the bike the miles passed relatively painlessly as we went back North towards the medieval town of Foix and then west along the edge of the Pyrenees. The roads were as beautiful as ever with large mountains on either side of us covered in dense green trees that made it look like we were riding through giant fields of broccoli.
Again we made good time and feeling better I pushed on to Saint-Beat which is a lovely little village on the border of France and Spain. From here we headed back south again to Vielha in Spain for a spot of lunch. Not a bad day when you can ride the most beautiful roads and pop from France into Spain for lunch!
Deciding to take the northern French route through the mountains, we back-tracked a few miles and headed west again towards Bagneres-de-Luchon as the roads took us through a lush green valley that eventually opened up into the town's high street.
Jayne again did the hotel scouting and found a beautiful hotel where the owner did us a 'special price' as he was due to close in a few days for the winter. They had a huge locked garage that was a few minutes from the hotel, we were given the Pin number for the door and deposited the bike in it before walking back to the hotel and setting up for the night.
Jayne went for another run in the mountains where she got a little lost and descended into another village, about now she realised she couldn't remember what our village was called even if she could find someone to ask! Luckily she retraced her steps and returned to the hotel to a bottle of red Vino and a cuddle in front of 'Friends' badly dubbed in French on the telly.