Friday, September 30, 2016

Our last full day in France.

Saint-Jean Pied de Port

Just Amazing. I did not write about this experiment because I was not sure it would work. But to save a day of looking for bike boxes to ship the tandem home, instead of throwing out the old ones, we mailed them ahead. It cost us a little over $30 to get them here at where we are staying, but check this out. I am ecstatic!

Here are some photos from our walk around this morning:

The Pilgrim office for our final stamp

The trail out of town, heading to Spain

Check out that Tractor Trailer. You don't see trucks like that in the states.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Day 16, The Finish

Navarrenx to Saint-Jean Pied de Port

Our last day of riding. Looking forward to the end. Remembering the last time we did this in 2002 as being the toughest day. The heat today in the sun was over the top! In the shade it seemed about 10 degrees cooler. There isn't much shade in his part of France, so when we found it, we used it.
We started out with the usual breakfast of coffee, yogurt and croissants. The plan was to work on the bike before the ride. The front brake pads were now down to metel. Loud scraping noise from the front brake only. I had spares.
After the bike was ready, we walked out of town to find the route. We wanted to start out on the road this morning to pass all the early walkers and then get on the trail. This worked well. By the time we hit the trail, most of the walkers were in back of us. The Chemin is very popular now so there are huge groups walking. Getting through with the tandem can be difficult. Ringing the bell and thanking them as we pass. One women saw us yesterday and said the bike was for invalids. French. I wanted to switch the direction of the marker ahead, but Barb said no.
The ride today was all up or down. The surprising was that we remained between 350 feet and 700 feet above sea level all day long. Up 500 feet and then down 200.
The views were spectacular most of the day. A far cry from the corn fields over the past 3 days.
Lunch on the side of the path of Pizza and Water Barbara picked up in town before we headed out. It was good and a nice break in a shady spot.
We were worrying about finding water. None of the small villages we passed had a store of any sort to buy or even fill our bottles. Running out of water would not be a good thing in the 87 degree heat.
At the end of a long hill and into a little town, we found a "Snack Truck" A women in a van selling sandwich's and drinks for passing Pilgrims. A great service and money maker in an area that had nothing.
She also pointed out a water fountain across the parking lot to fill our big bottles. Happy, we headed on our way.
It came to a point that we realized the best thing to do was to hop on the highway to our finish. We would need to do it at some point and doing it then would be the best time. Getting on later would have us in heavier traffic. The past 3 evenings had been late finishing and heavy traffic. Not fun. There are at times no room for bicycles, at all.
We got on the highway with 29km to go, That's about 18 miles. Up and down in full afternoon 87 degree sunlight.
We had also about a 10 mile per hour head wind. cooling, but making it harder to move forward.

We started on the highway at 325' above seal level and were soon at 700'. Not flat.
Stopping at times for a drink, and a shade break.

Arriving in Saint Jean Pied de Port came sooner then was expected. So Nice. We crossed over the town line sigh at 4:15.
We got to the hotel and our room as soon as we could. We have stayed here before and knew we would find a bottle of Champagne in the fridge for the great finish of another spectacular adventure.
Tomorrow is a whole day off. We will pack the bike and shop around town. We also need to go to the Pilgrim Office to get our final stamp.

Each trip, I at some point collect rocks to taks home. Over the past 15 days of riding and walking, I had not found anything unusual enough to want to have to carry. Today, for the first time I found these Quartz gems as if they were waiting. Tha biggest are a bit smaller then a pair of dice.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Day 15

Azacq-Arriziquest to Navarrenx

We started off the day in thick fog. Damp from the night's dew, all the spider webs were in full view as we headed out on the trail. We are still on clay. Happy to have never had it wet. Clay sticks to the tires and builds up until the wheels get super heavy and no longer pass through the frame. We have had this happened before and had to carry the bike to move ahead. The weather over the past 2 weeks has been perfect. Cool in the shade and warm in the sun. The only time the sun has been a problem is in the afternoons, setting in the West as we head west. In your eyes making it hard to see.
The clay path is super bumpy. Its frustrating because it looks rideable, but its not. We ride it anyway, very slowly. It has become steep again. Long walks uphill, sometimes shaded and other times in full sunlight. We don't talk while walking the bike uphill. Its hard work and it takes all you have got.
The downhills on the other hand are great. especially on the pavement the the Chemin has us doing often. Zooming along, looking for the "mark" If you miss one, and they do come up sometimes un noticed, it can mean another hill climb and lost time.
As it is, we have been making it in late. Never after the 7:30 start for dinner, but close. We have always had enough time to wash our clothing and get it hung up to start the drying process. Its so important to have dry shorts because the moisture rips you up.

Dinner tonight was simple but good, Shrimp, salad, and fry's. The fry's always do the trick.

Tomorrow is our last day. It will be the toughest and the steepest. Heading into the Pyrenees is not flat. For some reason, we never say them on the horizon until yesterday evening. It was after a huge climb on the last downhill into town. We were in traffic and it was not safe to stop.
The mountains are massive. Nothing like you see in New England. Its going to be work.
Here are some of today's photos:

Dorina, Shes walking to Santiago. We stopped and talked for about 20 minutes.