Margaret and Dick   

     

    
Day one: Hendaye to Tardets

Distance:  130 km (80 mi)

Total climbing:  ~1,850 m (~6,000 ft)

Resting heart rate (a.m.):  56 (a little higher than my normal 54)

Calories burned:  3,638

The cols:  St Ignace, Pinodieta, and Osquich

Livestock report:  cows, sheep, goats, horses, two raptors, one lizard, one friendly dog

Roadkill report:  numerous UFOs (unidentified furry objects), much flatter than US roadkill, possibly because the roads are narrower

Local specialty:  ossau-iraty cheese

Daphne's boulangerie report:  pain de campagne deux farines (country bread with two flours) and bagatelle (very skinny baguette with moist chewy insides).

Whoa, 71 hits on the website since yesterday.  Okay, I'm trying to keep up with posting while we're on the road.  It seems impossible that I'm actually communicating from a small hotel in a remote Basque village, but it seems to be working.

First, some photos of the Monument to the Tour de France in the Pyrenees, which we visited en route to Hendaye.  Note the size of the pedestrians.

     

And now on to the Pyrenees trek.  One thing is clear:  no one will starve on this trip.  We arrived hungry at our appointed lunch spot well before our soigneurs, who were stuck in market-day traffic.  By the time they arrived with our lunch, we had filled up on the breads and cheese noted above.  We then gobbled the lunch they had prepared for us.  Plus more munchies on the col d'Osquich, the usual Power Bars, ...

Today we crossed the Basque region of France, and it was like being in another country.  The town names are all but unpronounceable.  Starting from the Atlantic coast, we began winding our way through the low hills of the Atlantic Pyrenees.  We did much more climbing than we had anticipated.  Although there were only three small cols, the rest of the day was spent riding up and down the rolling foothills.

That Basque country is cycling heaven should have come as no surprise.  The Basques are crazy about cycling, and in fact the Basque people (Euskadi) are co-sponsors of one of the major cycling teams (Euskaltel-Euskadi).  Through highways have bicycle lanes that are wide, clean, and smooth; more rural roads can be rough, but they have almost no traffic.  Cyclists are everywhere, both locals and loaded tourists.  At our hotels last night and tonight, we were given the warm welcome that is characteristic of hotels that accommodate large numbers of cyclotourists.

Our major climb of the day was the short but respectable col d'Osquich.  On the descent, we had our wave of panic as we took our first peek at the peaks of the high Pyrenees and the ordeal lies ahead of us tomorrow.

         (Pyrenees main page)

         (Pyrenees day two)