Didn’t sleep well last night – suspect red wine. It often keeps me awake if I don’t drink enough of it and I only had 2 glasses. So I got up late, set off late and was doing a 600m climb in the heat of the late morning. The first part was on tarmac and then it went off road. First on a track and the on a muddy single track. But the gradients, although sometimes steep were generally ok, and I had my straw hat and Luke’s cycling shirt (which opens up completely) so I survived without heat stroke. The views were great all day – different from the high Pyrenees but still beautiful; very similar to England (or how England should be if it was ever sunny).
After the first ascent there was a great descent into Etxalar, where I then hid from the main heat of the day in a bar, eating ice cream and drinking coke. About 4.00 pm I left and had a another short (300m) but steep (12%) off-road climb to a pass. The wait in the bar did not seem to have done much for the heat – I had no thermometer but it must have been over 30º in the sun. But in the shade with a slight breeze it was very much cooler (25º ?) so every now and again I stopped to cool off.
I have dived off the TransPirenenaica route to stay overnight in Bera. I have ended up in a brilliant Hotel, run by Jose Ramon (JR) who is also a keen biker – road, off road, and motorbike. He is more machine than man, as most of his skeleton has been replaced by metal after an accident but he bikes to work each day at the top of one of the local mountains. He was very helpful and is developing some rooms especially for bikers. If you’re in the area, stay here: Hostal Auzoa (update 2021: link broken. Maybe Jose’s enterprise has failed?). There’s also a great bar just below.
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