Monday 27 July 2015. Made it to Santa station on the bikes. always hard to get the feet going round in circles at the start of the ride. A couple of adjustment wobbles and we were off. Last bit to the station was on their bike path. Fantastic. got two tickets from the machine, no charge for bicycles. 12 euro each to Puigcerda and 3 hours on train. Checked out access yesterday on our trip to see Pili at Tarragona. still humid but should be cooler up in the mountains hopefully although seems to be hot everywhere in Europe except for Belgium where aidan had rain yesterday. The countryside around here and indeed the dirty streets of Barcelona are crying out for a good fall. Hopefully only at night when we are in accommodation!
Barcelona has been very enjoyable. Airbnb fairly basic but only $50 per night and Nahuel was very friendly. Used the metro a bit but most le shanks pony as usual. Didn't try the city bikes but they were all over the place. Barcelona has heaps of bike and pedestrian infrastructure all put in since our last visit. High population density seems to have encouraged alternative means of transport to the car. Pity the Australian planners haven't had a look over here. Rubbish and recycling also seems much better with fewer larger bins for all to use?
Barcelona was hot humid noisy and smelly so it seemed apt to overhear the song 'tar and cement' in Spanish at one stage of our half marathon around The town. the first of many runners enjoying the heat was some one wearing a melbourne marathon Spartans top. Only a ten year version so I didn't say hello. Strange to say I was wearing a marathon t shirt myself
Was not until nearly lunchtime that we entered the first church. Worth waiting for, the Cathedral ticked all the right boxes.
While waiting for the Puigcerda train we
had 25 minutes on the platform (thank heaven for lifts!) to work out how to get bikes on train
like in France they were all different. When ours came it meant a lift up from the station level but we managed. This train didn't have the low entry for bikes but did racks for them (in winter you stack your skis in the same place. Another 3 hours and we are on the bikes at Puigcerda. Unfortunately couldn't find the train tickets when the inspector came. When he returned after we had gone through every several times he asked how much we had paid and decided we had bought them so no extra fee. Much relief from us.
Coffee at Puigcerda before we started at about 2pm. Only 1 k to the border - seemed so easy to ride from Spain to France in the Pyrennes! the work started quickly as we labored out of town. didn't look like it but the slope was 6% and in the heat 36- we knew we were cycling again. G. did the bonk ina big way after 11k! A fair bit of traffic and lots of climbing for the afternoon. We climbed 600m up to the plateau and turned north. Temperature dropped so by 5.30 when we reached the lake it was only 15
Hadn't done a huge distance but felt it on our first day camping at Lac de Matemale was good. Coolish night but ok with the single sleeping bag.
Started after 9 to try to warm up. Climbed 30m in the first few ks then it was just about all downhill. Went from 1530m down to about 200! Spectacular gorges especially St George Gorge very steep and narrow, lots of cutting out of rocks to allow the road and Aude river space. Camped at Alet des Bains, small English run camp in a medieval village. Dinner in the old monastery garden. headed off in the morning to St Hilaire another Cathar town with a large monastery. Lunch was ham and cheese baguettes opposite the church. Into the amazing Carcassonne in the early afternoon.Camped and spent hours in the old citadel and then more time in the vibrant old town . Tired by the time we got back to the campsite so had the 3 course meal, read for a while wondering about whether the few rain drops would turn into rain. Did not happen until the next day, Thursday. Rain early which stopped for us to pack and start riding but set in by the time we had climbed through the vineyards to Lastours
lastours has 4 Cathar 'castles' perched high above the town. Rained the whole way up the hill. 40 k of 4-5% before we could finally roll down the hill into Mazamet.Had intended to go another 200 to Castres but dived into the first hotel we came too.