Monday, September 22, 2008

Day 1: Hendaye to St. Etienne-de-Baigorry

From GPS Tracklog

We caught the 7:10am train to Hendaye from Bordeaux, a splitting train which forced a last minute scramble to switch train cars before the train took off. That part of France being flat, the train moved relatively fast, and the train even had a bike car, though with only two bike spots. I ended up having to put my bike on the disabled parking spot. Roberto found a Frenchman to practice his French on, and in the process found out that there wouldn't be much competition for lodging --- most people ended their holidays a couple of weeks ago.

Arriving in Hendaye, I immediately turned on my GPS and loaded in the first part of my pre-planned route. But first, a ride to the coast to ensure that we started at sea level was in order. The route out of Hendaye wasn't too bad, with traffic being left behind relatively quickly on a Sunday. When we came to the first pass, however, excitement caused me to opt to go up Col d'Ibardin instead of doing the two shorter Cols that the RAID Pyrenees route selected. That turned out to be a mistake, since the top of Col d'Ibardin was in Spain, and was indeed a border town where Frenchmen went to shop for goods at a discount.

The weather was warm and humid, it having rained the night before, and by the time we reached the top, it was time for an early lunch. The descent into Spain was relatively traffic free, and the ride over Col de Lizuniaga unremarkable but pretty. That brought us back into France again, followed by another isolated climb over Puerto de Otxondo, followed by another pass (Col d'Ispeguy) back into France to spend the night.

In St. Etienne-de-Baigorry, we found a hotel but it was a bit expensive, so we rode on. As we rode through town center, a man playing a strange squash hybrid with his son stopped us and gave us help in finding lodging. Arriving at the hotel, however, through a misunderstanding, Roberto thought the hotel didn't serve dinner as it was after 7:30pm. I pointed out that it was only 6:00pm, but he was too impatient to try to sort things out so we ended up riding back into town for Pizza and a really excellent Gateau Basque, a really excellent local cake. It was only after we returned to the hotel that Roberto realized that he was mistaken.

Nevertheless, a good day with 98.5km and 2026m climb.
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