Coasts and Cols - Day 3 - 'Enter The Pyrenees, France and Rain'

Today started well: I rolled out of my campsite onto quiet roads, with a beautiful sunrise. Heading east, I soon left Pamplona behind and begun my first few cols of the day.

Each climb still seems surprisingly hard on the fully loaded Kona. I hadn't anticipated quite how much harder it would be. I am finding my rhythm now though, and setting a decent pace.

By lunchtime, I had made good progress; with half the daily mileage on the clock.

Things got progressively harder after lunch, with more elevation gain and longer ascents. By 16:30, I reached the bottom of the Pic de Larrau - the final climb of the day. This mountain pass would take me into France; it is was a whopper though, at 1,000+ metres of ascent.

After a coffee in the town at the bottom, I began my assault. Within about 10 minutes of the hour long climb, the heavens opened. It wasn't too bad going up: just a case of grin and bear it. The descent though, was the tricky part...

Despite putting on a top of the range Gore jacket, and waterproof gloves, and every bit of kit I could... nothing could keep out the wind and rain.

The top eight kilometres of the descent were also being resurfaced by the French, so I was riding on inch deep gravel, and even slower as a result. By the time I arrived at the town of Larrau, I was a block of wet ice.

I ran (or staggered) for the nearest hotel bar, and ordered several coffees, and several chocolat chauds. I made full use of their radiator, and also borrow a nice warm jacket from a kind Frenchman. After 30 minutes, I had warmed up enough to continue my descent into the valley. I found a suitable camping spot, and set up the tent.

Everything is wet. Tomorrow doesn't look dry either. I'm hoping the forecast is wrong, and I can make some decent mileage... if not, I might be hunting for a 'Plan B'.

Pic de Larrau


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