Hello from Barcelona,
Since we last wrote from Carcassone, France we have covered significant horizontal as well as vertical territory.
The organizers had a meeting the night before we left to bring us up to date on plans for Spain, Washington and to discuss some of the negative websites and correspondence being generated by some of the riders. Looks like we will be taking a bus (15 hours overnight) from Barcelona to Gibraltar, and will arrive via a new charter company a day early in Washington for a late day ride of 25+ miles to a hostel in Washington. Tim was upset over a website set up demanding a refund and by the negative songs and poems others have been distributing. One rider has been told to leave the ride and it has been suggested that another do so, looks like there may be more to follow. The group is fractured with one faction feeling everything is great and others feeling their is room for improvement. We trust the organizer will take to heart the numerous complaints concerning, food, support, mechanical support and lack of medical staff as promised.
Our Easter Sunday, 2000 will be one we will remember for years to come!! Left Carcassone after riding to breakfast from our hotel in town, what was billed as a 3km ride turned into a 7km ride with the rain making it feel like 70. The route took us along a 120km, route to Ax le Thermer, with a mere 9000+ vertical climb thrown in for good measure. The rain would never let up save for later in the day when it turned into sleet then snow!! (Good reminder of why we live in Florida). Arrived in town to discover that the gear trucks would be returning that evening and we could once again more conveniently store our belongings, amazing what insurance will do. The night was extremely cold with frost on the pumpkin. Dinner was that good old standby French dinner of spaghetti (again) lots of bread.
After a restful night in a clean inexpensive hotel it was up for a good breakfast, load the gear into the gear truck and away. This was to be a 38km climb through Andorra to the Spanish town called La Seur Urgell. The 86km day saw us climb the Pyrenees and it was a sight to behold, on the left side we had skiers, on the right snowmobilers and in the middle these crazy cyclists!! The cheese sandwich bought at the summit for an extortionate amount of francs tasted like a fine French meal.
After a brief rest we dawned our rain gear for warmth and began the downhill of all downhills, since my Mother will read this message I will not say how fast, suffice to say we qualified for a speeding ticket!! Lead foot Mary was in her glory.
We had a super meal for dinner, fish complete with head and tail and done to perfection (perhaps the request has gotten through). Everyone seemed to enjoy this meal. A welcome change from pasta.
Next morning it was up and at it for what was billed as 145km a mostly downhill day with a couple of climbs to Monistral Monsterrat. Surprise, surprise 153km with over 7000 feet of accumulated vertical clime, with a killer at the end. The scenery was spectacular but when you are grinding up a hill in order to get in before dark it is hard to appreciate Mother Nature's work. Many underestimated the day and had to get a lift into camp. The campgrounds were actually a dirt soccer field on the outskirts of town with an excellent dinner served some 2km away. The walk to dinner and climb back up to bed was interesting.
The following day we had breakfast and headed off to Barcelona. Followed the prescribed route for a bit then headed direct for the train station to see if we could secure alternate transportation in a sleeper to Gibraltar. After a long wait we were advised we could not get a sleeper, as all are booked (ugh). Looks like we are destined to endure 15 hours on a bus overnight to Gibraltar. The schedule calls for us to eat dinner at 4:30PM load the bust at 7:00PM and drive to the other end of Spain. If you have a map have a look to appreciate the distance.
The weather has improved and we have actually seen the sun again. Amazing what warmth and sun will do for one's mood. There has also been a marked improvement in the meals the last couple of nights and we trust this will continue.
Mary and I are hanging in, Mary better than me. Thankfully she is approaching this trip like a trooper and her pep talks to me, while not always appreciated, do help. We are determined to hang in there.
Will close for now stay tuned for our bus trip report!!
Dave & Mary