Monday, September 08, 2008

Gincla to Argeles-Sur-Mer

From Screen Captures

We set off this morning up D22 to the top of Col d'Aussueres (1020m). It was cool to the point where we had to go hard to warm up, but the top of the Col was in sunlight, with views of pastoral farmland before descending down to the Pyrenean desert on the other side.=. The descent down to Sournia was on pretty but narrow and rough roads, with only occasional traffic. Once there, however we took a wrong turn towards Campoussy instead of towards Col des Auzines (606m). What really irked me about this mistake was that I had my GPS unit there, and I have even written a blog post on dynamic routing, my I had neglected to put my brain in gear and use it when the intersection was signed ambiguously. Fortunately, we did not have to do much extra climbing before turning around and heading towards the right place --- Col des
Auzines. The approach to this pass was classic Pyrenean desert with chapparal and rock outcroppings --- the only thing that told me it wasn't California were the old ruined castles and the like. From just past the Col we could see our first glimpse of the Mediterreanean.

With the beach in view at last, we were pulled towards the coast with ferocity. The descent was fast and furious, and the corners well graded and banked, so soon we were in Ille-sur-Tet.

The last 30km or so to the beach was a drag --- stiff headwinds, heavy beach traffic, and warm weather, a shock to my system after the cool morning. The roads were also rough --- much worse than the mountains. As we approached Argeles-Sur-Mer, Mike discovered that his saddlebag was leaning against his rear brake cable, causing an annoying noise. We stopped at a supermarket to pick up Orangina bottles, drinking one immediately to cut the bottom into a shim to fix this problem. Riding into Argeles-Sur-Mer was such a headache that I resolved to take a train out of the area if possible.

After asking at the local Hotel de Ville (city hall), we were directed to the tourist information center, where we got a list of hotels, and picked a cheap one with air conditioning. We got an obligatory picture of the three of us at the beach with our bikes, and by 5pm I was on the beach at Argeles-Plage, swimming and getting ready for a much needed "rest day", after having ridden 96.3km and climbed 1024m.

The night, I discovered the true purpose of the Vibram Five Fingers --- while playing air hockey with Roberto, a beautiful blond woman came up to me and started talking to me excitedly. Since my French was nearly non-existent, I was non-plussed until I'd figured out that she was talking about my shoes! I obliged and took off my shoes and showed it to her.
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