Cycle the Pyrenees; Getting to the Start

Friday 26 August 2011

We have chosen to take longer than the 10 days for the extended version of the Raid Pyrenean, as we want to have time to relax after the riding, enjoy the scenery and very importantly, the choice to ride on the small white roads with little traffic.  Here is our trip showing the stages we took and where we stopped for the night.  We are carrying our own camping gear and camp every night, with two exceptions.  We have no support vehicle. We are travelling with two other couples.

We travel to Wakefield ready to get on the European Bike Express early on Saturday morning.  It is rainy but we dodge the showers, our cycles are treated like royalty at the Premier Inn.

Waiting at Mirfield Station

Sat 27 August 2011

It is only a short ride along the cycle path to the pick up point for the bus.  Our travel mates appear, and leave their van at a very convenient car park on a nearby farm.  We turn handlebars and prepare ourselves for 36 hours on the bus.  Sleep, wriggle, talk, read, coffee, channel crossing, dark French motorways.

The Luggage waiting for the Bike Express

Two Bike Express Buses with their Cargo, including two recumbent trikes

Sunday 28 August 2011

Arrive at Narbonne Est at about 10 am, and sure enough Paddy from VeloPeloton is waiting for us as arranged.  He takes us on the five-hour journey to Hendaye, where our tour is to begin.  We could have got the bike bus to the Western side of France but not at the times we needed, so we must add this leg to our already long journey.  He is very helpful and takes us right to the campsite, making sure we are happy with it before he leaves us.

We have chosen Camping Alturan at Hendaye, which is a terraced site with individual plots, only 100yards from the sea front.  This is important as we need to go into the sea before we set off to seal the deal.

Hendaye Beach, very close to Camping Alturan

We wash clothes and stroll to the beach.  The air is warm and moist, and the beach beautiful; a long stretch of clean pale sand with big breakers tossing surfers around, that seems to stretch all the way to Spain.  Nothing we have read about Hendaye prepares us for how pretty it is.  Everyone swims while I paddle; Jim has forgotten his trunks, which doesn’t matter as we are on the nudist end of the beach.  It does mean that there are no photos of this, as you don’t feel right flashing your camera about on nudist beaches.  Later, as the sun sets we stroll along the front towards the Spanish border to find a restaurant after beers at the camp site, looking down to the sea through the trees.  At night, the sea can be heard; a whisper among the roaring snores that roll through the site.

The Team at the Start of the Raid Pyrenean

Hendaye Beach at Sunset. Photo Chris Preston

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