Saturday, 25 August 2012

Some cycling pictures

First col!!

second col

a biggy!

road open now! On way from d'Aubisque to Soulor

Weather closing in!! This wasn't fun!

This was a lovely ride and lots of hellos at top!

An unhappy hungry welshman! 9.30 and closed!

no crepes and cold! Smile for the camera! Don't bother then!

Long climb but worth it. 

Lawr tries out his FHM pose

last one and we wouldn't have noticed it!

We missed her!!! Myvanwy xx

some walking pictures at last

pointing the finish of the pyrenees before the start on la barcares beach

late night attempt at start photo

looking down to very steep descent on day 3

I'parla the first mountains over 1000m

la pierre st martin

'official' camping at Borce

Chemin de la Mature

over the 2200m pass then deep snow and mist to Gabas

col Soulor and the 'closed' road

val d'aran, Catalonia

back in France with thining snow

or maybe not!!

the Med.

Bonnie Scotland

Chapter one complete!
Well we hope we can enjoy even more adventures. So rather than say it's the end it really is the start of something new! 
It has been a fabulous time away with many adventures and dreams achieved. We are really grateful to have been given this opportunity and realise that this trip would not suit everyone, but I cannot think of a better person to have spent this time with (lucky that!).
Since last weekend have cycled, swam, ran and climbed and hope we can continue as work begins.
Of all the beautiful places we have been to this is still one of the best.

Thanks for reading our diary hope you have enjoyed it.
Lawr & Wend (&Myfanwy) x

13th-17th holland and home

 17th Aberfeldy/port glasgow
While the lads enjoyed fabulous weather, a fantastic fishing trip and a mackerel massacre I got ready for the triathlon. Joined by two others from crieff we warmed up in the warmish waters of the loch. As I entered the water I suddenly couldn't remember if I had locked the van and then for the whole race drank most of the peaty loch water. On the bike, although I avoided the potholes and punctures, my tribars came loose but it didn't hinder the beautiful cycle. The run was just survival and more undulating than I remembered! Nonetheless a beautiful triathlon on my doorstep. Gave two french hitchhikers a lift to Dunkeld and enjoyed chatting and trying out my french! Short conversations..

16th Home
Lawr and the fishermen headed off for the yacht and I got packing for Aberfeldy triathlon.

15th Home
waking early we had a long breakfast and sat in the van before beginning to disembowel Myfanwy. It wasn't long before Lawr's fishing chums started to arrive. My Dad brought Otis (chihuahua/dachshund cross) and it filled the dog gap a little, then suddenly things seemed nice and busy again.
It was an evening swim in loch earn as 4 of us paddled about. Lovely..
Not quite ready for the photo as we pull some faces and Derek is caught looking for sharks

14th Lake district
As the ferry pulled in the sea was calm and the air warm. We gently then loudly reminded each other which side of the road to drive on. Lots of roundabouts to encourage rapid learning! Across to the lakes we unpacked the bikes and cycled the Helvellyn Triathlon bike course. This Tri is the only UK one in the worlds hardest top 10 Triathlons. Apparently the swim is skull crushingly cold (have they ever swam in loch Tay, the cycle takes in The 'Struggle' and the weather can be treacherous, have they ever cycled in the Scottish highlands and the run up Helvellyn where 3 people have died in the last few years, OK we'll give them that one.)
Anyway the wind was warm and the roads were undulating and the struggle was a bit of a struggle. Until Glenridding it was dry then we had a free shower over the last 7miles, saved having one in the van.
Before driving home we visited friends at Penrith and eventually got back home for midnight.
Taking only the essentials from the van we headed to bed. Couldn't sleep though as we had a slight agoraphobic feeling!

13th Heemskerk
The morning was spent getting lost (directed by a friendly clog wearer) in the dunes trying to find the sea.  We eventually ended up on the lovely beach at Heemskerk then gradually found our way back to Myfanwy via some highland cattle.  We met with a friends brother and family and shared a long and pleasant chat before packing up and heading to the ferry.  Our cheerful satnav had great fun sending us up cycle paths and asking us to hover over various watery inlets.  She was obviously finishing her trip off with a flourish.  She nearly got a quick swimming lesson!
After kibbling and chips we boarded the ferry and enjoyed a smooth crossing.

Monday, 13 August 2012

9-12th august

12th Den Helder
Decided to cycle to Harlingen, crossing over the Afsluitdijk dyke. It was a really strong headwind on the way out- it was relentless cycling. Harlingen was quite nice and after suitable refuelling we headed back, looking forward to the tail wind over the dyke. We cycled up a slope which I will classify as a hill for todays cycle. A strange day, but lovely.

Highs – nice stop for our last days
Lows – our last days
Note – where’s the time gone

 11th Den Helder
With our plan to lsland hop scuppered we tried to enter a 10km race on Vlieland, but it was full. So a day on seeing the sights and a jog along the amazing dyke.

10th Texel
Got the ferry across to the island and had the whole day out. It should have only taken about 3hours to cycle but once you include cake and coffee stops the day just seem to extend. It was a beautiful day, the skies were blue the sand was white, very much like a tropical island, but the sea was chilly.

9th Den Helder
Wandered round the town to get our bearings and try to understand the ferry system to the islands and if they are road cycle friendly.

5-8 august

8th Bad Neuenahr
So after a we run around the local area and a roasting shower (the first time the water heater has been tested on electric) we are on the road again. We head to the flat lands and make a detour over the dyke between Markermeer and Ijsselmear. Park at the marina at Den Helder where we will spend the remaining days of our trip.

Highs – dyke, posh loos and showers
Lows – where’s the hills
Note – feel like we should be swimming even though we are on land

7th Bad Neuenahr
Went for a wee run to see Arweildhr. It is a pretty town and the Ahr is very pretty too. Went to the pool which was just next to us, where Lawr and I felt overwhelmed by the larger than life Germans. Post clean we managed to watch the Olympic triathlon. With Lawr suitably inspired he is now looking for another event (although not sure Lawr’s brother Pete will be keen on the swim).
Made it to RAF Bruggen which is now the Javelin barracks. Lawr asked for a look around but we would have to get a taxi and the guard on the gate said it was so run down it wasn’t worth it. Lawr was a little disappointed, so we went to an old haunt of his and he had a Jaegerschnitzel.
Parked up and went to find ‘the pub’. Lawr had trouble remembering the place, but not sure id that is age or beacasue he was usually tired and confused. In the ‘the pub’ we had a few, but couldn’t believe that everyone was smoking!
Wandered back to the van, but got lost, thankfully it was a lovely night for a walk.

Highs – beer, ‘the pub’
Lows – the biggest and most active RAF base after 30years is a rundown army depo.
Note – do trips down memory lne become more frequent with age?

6th Bad Neuenahr
So after getting info from sis from the place to visit (she lived here for some years) we cycled along the Rhine to Koblenz. Interesting route on varied surfaces with varied scenery. We finished at the monument where the Rhine and the Mosel meet, where there is quite a flow. Not wanting to follow the same route back we chose to go west over the hills. Once we eventually got out of Koblenz it was a pretty route back, although I would have thought a head wind on the way out woul mean a tail wind on the way back?!
Back at the can we were ‘set’ upon by Ernest a retired economic teacher. He grilled us about teaching in Scotland and everything seemed similar until he mentioned German teachers get 70-75,000euros a year.
Eventually, once Lawr had been lured to Ernest’s van to inspect his handy work on his internals, we went for a beer and food in a traditional German establishment called Killybegs! Lawr said he has been there. Strange sitting in an Irish pub in Germany listening to Lawr’s account of his fish catching.

Highs – cycle
Lows – lost in Koblenz
Note – have to check with Derek about the fish catching.

5th Ravensburg/Bad Neuenahr
Bit of a lazy start to the day, so instead of the prompt get away the day consisted of, dicht bike using a trough, dip in lagoon, dried clothes, dodgy road side loos, delays in roadworks, wils goose chase to stellplatz, arrived in thunderstorm at Bad Neuenahr. Very late, so Olympics watched in bed.
Highs – post race relaxation
Lows – road works
Note – holidays and time keeping don’t go together

3rd -4th Ravenburg

4th Ravenburg
Woke to the sound of much activity as the triathlon was being set up.  The water side was completely transformed with red and white tape.
There were a number of kid’s races and this lot were serious. Great to watch.
Next up was us. We had to find a translator to check we didn’t miss anything.
The start was a complete rammy of people as we all lined up in the water and along the beach. It was elbows, fists and feet to try to stay your line to the buoy. No wetsuits as the water was 24degrees. I could see Lawr on my right and tried to stay with him until some breaststrokers cut me up at the buoy and hemmed in and nowhere to go I took a few kicks to the ribs before I could get some space. It was a good swim but not sure it was 1500m.
Both into transition together, but Lawr out ahead on the dry cycle route. It wasn’t long before the later starting sprint athletes zipped by on their aerodynamic machines.
Lawr suffered a bit on the hills and I was working my socks off to catch the ladies ahead. On the second lap I could see Lawr and we came into transition together. The run was good, but we found our times slow, although most times seemed that way. (4lap run route).
I heard my name on the tannoy as I came across the line and not far behind was Lawr.
Post-race swim coffee and cake and watched the winners ceremony. We both did well in your age group and I was surprised to find I had picked up a medal in my (old) age group. As I came forward to collect my medal the announcer started to sing ‘You drive me crazy..’ Didn’t think he knew me that well!
Tried to slack line but was pants, (tired legs?), Lawr was pretty good though. Back to stellplatz and watched J Ennis win gold.

Highs –triathlon trophy
Lows – Lawr’s hills, knackered but couldn’t sleep
Note – if you need to take anti-inflammatory’s before and after an event is it time to give yourself a rest?

3rd - Lindau
Nice stop at busy Stellplatz and travelled back to Ravensburg. We went to look at the triathlon cycle route. It was beautiful (although we may not be saying that on lap 2 tomorrow). It went through the farmland of fruit and hop growing. Lawr returned to his childhood and aquired a pear from an overhanging branch. Went to register and check out the water temperature for tomorrow - 23degrees! All looks good. Warm evening.
highs - cycle route, pear
lows - horseflys
note - trees seem to affect our olympic coverage

Friday, 3 August 2012

2nd august

2nd- Meersburg
Decided to visit Liechtenstein as had been looking at it on the map. It seemed like a good idea to visit a small country.
If you enjoy visiting financial institutions then Vaduz is the place for you.
Back to Lochau for swim in lake Konstanz. A nice end to the day.
highs - Aldi´s (Swiss)
lows - Journey to Lochau
note - sometimes it pays to research before visiting a place.

1st August - Meersburg

So the last month has arrived. We decide ´celebrate´ the last months by a cycle round part of the lake, then get the ferry back over to the van. It´s a beautiful cycle, although for part of the way we have to use the family friendly path, so progress is initially slow, but quite flat. As usual we get shouted at but have no idea why. I mean Lawr doesn´t even have his Welsh shirt on today. We cycle from Germany to Austria to Switzerland (for the first time without visiting George!) then back to Germany.
From a bikes point of view we found, the German´s very considerate and patient with cyclists, The Austrians would run you off the road and the Swiss are very polite even when you are in the wrong!
We thought we were getting shot at today as some twit set off bangers and threw them out the car window. One whizzed across the road under Lawr´s bike. Unscathed we caught the very quick and free ferry back to the van. This however was not without incident. Coming down the metal steps Lawr´s cleat cover came off and he slipped, thankfully stopping just before knocking me over too, but leaving behind some skin and blood. I did my Florence Nightingale bit and applied stinging stuff to the wounds. Never mind Lawr nothing broken...
highs - lovely cycle
lows - being ´shot´at, Lawr´s encounter with trip snipper
note - great place for anyone to come and explore

31st july

Quite a big town here in Ravensburg, about 50,000 inhabitants. The more colourful residents were keeping the police ´entertained´ in the town centre. After gathering the information we needed from the very helpful tourist office we headed to the lagoon for a dip and to see what water we would face on the tri day. The lagoon was 23degrees and i thought a bit to stagnant. I did my best not to swallow to much of it during the splashing/swimming i was doing as i don´t think we could cope in the van with a dodgy tummy..
Drove later to lake Konstanz. The stellplatz are very busy but there are plenty of them. Lake looks lovely.
highs - lagoon
lows - questionable water quality
note - can´t believe Ravensburg is twinned with Cynon Taf... the next local authority to Merthyr Tydfil
(Have photo evidence but not able to up load)

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

30th Shongau

Sore sore sore. Apart from float in the pool, eat and drive to Ravensburger it was a low key day. Oh and Lawr had his first Bratwurst.
highs - alive
lows - really sore (old age i'm told by the spring chicken)
note - buy more Ibrufen

29th Shongau

the day started with the sun shining and our entry gift was not Barvarian beer (as Lawr had hoped), but non alcoholic Barvarian beer! Nice beer glasses though. Back at the start the top men and women were gettting ready. It started to rain, but really rain. For the next hour it poured but thankfully we were in wetsuits walking to the start!
Lawr was first off and even though he took 7mins off his Annecy swim time, he was still paced by a guy doing breaststroke! On the technical cycle he had time to chat to a PE techer from NZ, (she kicked his butt in the swim). His run was steady, but hampered by a niggle in his calf. I was left for dead in the swimming, after 50m there were 5 of us swimming our heart out, but getting dropped by the rest. I found the last 300m very confusing as all the yellow bouys seemed to be floating around the river.. it was only as i chose one to head to that i realsied it was the yellow swim caps of the sprint triathletes who started after us i was following. It took a bit to get my bearings. The cycle was drying out so the cobbles were less of a worry and on the run I had tight hamstrings, didn't really run until 7km.
Anyway it was a river swim, multi lap course, well supported by the whole community and the after race food was almost as good as Crieff 10km. Our end times were only 10secs apart, which meant it was almost a perfect day :)
highs - race, post race beer, Lawrs vintage PB?!
lows - running trouble
note - the very expensive TT bikes were redundant on the technical course. All rounder bike much better.

28th Shongau

pre race day, we headed to the pool for a splash about. It was outside and made of metal, so when the sun shone you could see your swimming shadow. Lawr commented on his similarity to Lochte's style and me thinking i could really do with some swim coaching.
The afternoon was rainy so we settled for some sport. Badminton was a bit one sided and boring so we livened it up with our own commentary. The orgainser said they had to release more water from the dam to fill up the river, so the water was now 15-16degrees. I just hope they remember to stop the flow incase we get flushed out into the sea.
highs - restful day, more campers and participants arriving
lows - mosquitos
note - we think the olympic ceremony was great despite the poor coverage over here.

27th Shongau

I felt particularly achey and old today. When i came back from the morning routine i found a card and gift on the seat. (i ate the gift incase it went off) :) It was very hot and it was exhausting just going into town. The day started with me getting my legs waxed by a fiesty fräulein. Later we cycled the route for sunday, which is very complicated, up lanes, through walls, over cobbles then eventually lovely open countryside.
Lawr dabbled with his brakes and managed to fix them but not before the Dutch couple and I had to search the car park for his spring. We learnt that Hello in Barvarian is Grüß Gott. I mistakenly though a teenager has identified me as Scottish and was saying 'you're Scots?'
highs - smooth legs, found spring, can watch olympics
lows - complicated cycle
note - have more things to do now so need more time

26th Shongau

Why here? well there is a triathlon on at the weekend and its on the romantic road, the 'grandfather' of Germany's scenic routes.
Had a good blether with a Dutch couple and got some info on possible routes north. Noticed today that the van is making a rather funny noise so have to get it checked out. May be stuck here - shame really.
Found out all about the triathlon, which is part of the Barvarian championships!
Our campspot is next to a nightclub, so earplugs maybe required. Finding it hot now the hill are behind us.
highs -found the right town for triathlon
lows - awful hot, lost pretzels, van joint
note - Germany doesn't seem to accept mastercard..

25th Falzerago - Bruneck

We drove away from our campspot and set up camp at Cron4 for the day. I set out a training plan to help get rid of the heading home blues. We spent some time looking for places to visit in Germany. Decided to stay the night and travel tomorrow.
highs - exercise
lows - leaving the Dolomites
note - endorphins are great

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

24th Falzerago (such a pretty spot)

24th Falzerago (such a pretty spot)
So the Torri Piccola waited. It was a scramble to the start of the climb, which itself was hard to identify. We were made aware of people on the route as a rock thudded down our scramble up route. The route itself was good, steady and positive (especially after yesterday’s friable rock) Near the top we passed 4 Italians clipped into one belay point and all hanging off one karabiner. Lawr urged me to hurry as he was keen to get passed them quickly. At the top it was abseil only off. The first being a 15m drop to a ‘path’. From here round the corner were two abseil hooks (which, apparently, looked like you could lower fire engines from). After Lawr had set up the abseil he went over the edge and was quickly out of sight. Sitting on the very windy top looking out over the valley I felt a song coming on…’on my own…’ I was quickly brought back by Lawr shouting up to start my descent. As I moved to position the rope popped out of the second abseil hook and the second part of my song came into my head, ‘why did it end this way…’.
Anyway it was a 22m vertical slab. Lawr was sure of the distance due to the amount of our 55m rope that was on the ground. It was a challenging scramble down to the path, before we wandered along the path back to the van. Unbelievably there was a guy with a Welsh Grand Slam t-shirt on. Thankfully he wasn’t Welsh and I didn’t have to listen to the ‘banter’. The guy was Italian and spoke little English.
It was sunnier and warmer now than this morning.

Highs – successful climb, 1st alpine abseil
Lows – uncertain weather, last day here
Note – next visit to Dolomites we’ll bring double ropes

23rd Falzarego

23rd Falzarego

It was freezing again last night and we started to regret throwing out the slippers earlier on in the trip. It rained at 6am and then the sun struggled to emerge from the clouds. The wind, even though southerly, had quite a bite to it.  As we had breakfast the blue sky appeared a little but it was cold. The Dutch couple have been living in their car for 2months and small tent.
Packed up we set off for via del buco (grade4) 30mins walk from the van. There were two climbers on the route and 3 Germans waiting. So we waited for our turn in the chilly wind.
Eventually we set off on what turned out to be a really good climb on the lower sections but the last two pitches were broken.
On pitch two my hands were pretty numb after a long wait for the next belay to be cleared. Suddenly, from above, an expletive from Lawr. My rope went loose and I tried to hold the rock tighter as I wondered what had happened. Turns out Law had dropped the spare camera battery. I shouted up, 'they are ten a penny but you only get one Wend…TAKE IN’.
We carried on and the Germans let us passed, with Marcus their lead climber making imitations of the loud Italians on the climb next to us.
On pitch 6 things were going well. I even had some heat back in my body, due to nerves I think.
A bellow of ‘BELOW’ from Lawr had myself and the Germans hugging the rock as a small stone dropped passed us. We all relaxed and I carried on up to meet Lawr. Just as I had started another ‘BELOW’ came from Lawr. This time a hand sized rock whizzed past my helmet with the debris hitting my rucsac but thankfully clearing the ledge the German were on below. It turns out that the rock whizzed past Lawr's left side and may have been dislodged by some fighting Chuffs. ( Lawr has now put Chuffs down the pecking order of his favourite birds. I think I still feature in the top three…)
The last few pitches were scree and it was like walking on eggshells. At bone belay boulder the rock had deterioratd and felt very unreliable, but the end was in sight. The 10 pitch climb was over and overall a good route. We wandered down the Austrian Troop path and over a 15m suspension bridge and back to the van, via a look for the fallen camera battery. We consoled our lose with a water melon feast.
Highs – 10 pitch climb, water melon, relaxed start
Lows – scree, falling rocks, cold hands, ripped jacket
Note - we’re having a bruised knee cap competition and I seem to be winning

21st & 22nd Falzarego

22nd Falzarego
Hail and sleet so stayed in the comfort of Myfanwy and watched others set out on there Sunday climb. And the weather just got worse. In a short weather window around midday we got the bikes off and did some training, just some gentle hill reps until we felt sick. (at 2100m it was tough) This was no way near as unpleasant as climbing in the sleet, wind and rain which up to 15 climbers were enduring on our proposed route for tomorrow! The temperature dropped, the heating went on and we prepared for winter conditions! I think a later start for tomorrow may be advisable. Possibly as late as 7am. We also have neighbours. A Dutch couple have moved next to us in there Volvo they are sleeping in, so we have looked out cups for them to help them defrost in the morning.

Highs – not climbing
Lows – not climbing
Note – weather conditions are vital to enjoyment. Looking through the binoculars at the soggy climbers they looked miserable.

21st Bruneck/Falzarego
With the amazing overnight storms we headed to Bruneck where the weather was warmer but just as wet. We were informed that Austria and Germany are much cheaper than Italy, so to hold off buying too much! We wandered did a little shopping and had a siesta (due to the bad night’s sleep with the storm and a possible rock fall nearby that awoke us with our hearts pounding). We made use of the cron4 pool then back to the pass where the temperature was quite chilly. With the trusty thermometer outside we had a reading of under 5degrees, but through the night it must have been close to freezing.

Highs – resupplies, swim, siesta
Lows – ate too many dates
Note – Dolomites feel more like home every day.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

20th Falzarego – still

20th Falzarego – still

So we woke prepared for another rock adventure only to find overnight rain and heavy fog! Extra kip ya beauty! Then a cycle day! We started with 10mls fast miles all downhill to Cortina (1200m). Which unlike it’s its namesake produced by Ford is complex and posh! So we got out of there quickly! And wound our way up Passo Tre Croci at 1805m.  We had a water stop at beautiful Lago Di Misurina. The road back to Cortina was claggy, surrounded by pines into a head wind and undulating just like home! Then we faced the 10mls back up to Passo Falzarego and Myfanwy!  Who had attracted another camper!  We soon spoilt that and as usual were on our own! Weather become like home so plans altering.

Highs – Extra kip (Lawr), peanut butter sandwich at Cortina airstrip.
Lows – Extra kip (Wendy), Sore legs after cycle, unusual bruises due to climbing!
Note – Snake attack on path! After cycle a short jog was livened up by a huge black snake sunning itself on the path we were running on.  I slowed and it just curled up and pointed it’s not inconsiderable head towards us.  Lawr stood his ground and the snake backed off.  Lawrence then jogged at the back to make sure the snake didn’t follow!

19th Falzarego – still

19th Falzarego – still

So with a decision made last night that we would give the climb a go on Sass de Stria. We set off early to try to get on the route before others. Eventually after a steep ascent we made it and eventually found the start of the 7pitch route. We could see a group above us, but before we had even got on the climb and Italian couple came up and told us to be careful as they had only one helmet! Generally the route was ok (considering the amount of climbing I have done recently) apart from a large boulder which was in our way at belay point 5. Lawr overcame the obstacle and I lost my bobble and even on a tight belay had a flap, but there was only one way to go and the Italian couple were annoyingly on our heels, literally, the whole way up. They were also being pressed by about 8 other climbers behind them, but the views from the top were great. After a refuel and I had a look for my bobble and think I found it semi intact. We set off down more trenches and fortifications from the war. It must have been awful in winter up here.

Met a couple from Aviemore who gave us some more routes to look at.  Feeling really tired back in the van. The adrenaline must be subsiding.
Sass de Stria

Highs – Hextenstein route grade 4+
Lows – being pressed all the way and climbers climbing at my heels, flap at boulder (Wendy only!)
Note – Italians climb like they drive.

18th Falzarego pass - still

18th Falzarego pass - still

 So unsure of what to do today we headed out to Averau with VF kit. We did the very short VF (2b) then walked to the top at 2649m. We took pictures at the top and could have made a bit of cash on the side from the number of pictures we took for others (it was pretty busy). On our way back down we met a Polish guy who I thought was going to have a heart attack. He was young-ish but had got himself very anxious about walking back down the scree and VF. He asked to join us and followed us down, stopping on route to have fresh tea with an Israeli couple we had met earlier. All sitting chatting in English (I ask myself is there any point of learning another language?) Lawr led the way on the short but slightly tricky VF and the Polish guy was very happy to be back on the path!  We carried on away from the main route to the north east side of Averau and walked back over Croda Negra, 2518m where we came across more WW1 remnants including complex trenches. On the evening wander we chatted to a group on Spaniards who had travelled 2,500km with 5 kids to get here.  This was a truly international day.
Have located a fountain to get more drinking water; it’s quite dry round here, so thankfully no water rationing.

Highs – good walk, fresh tea on hill, good sleep, water.
Lows – no one seems to want to park beside us..! (no other uk vans in area)
Note – Lawr frustrated with guide book so thinking of writing his own. I think it’s just an excuse to extend the trip….I’m up for that)

17th Corvara/Falzarego

17th Corvara/Falzarego

So up at the crack of dawn (according the king of lie in’s) and walked up and along to the newest VF in the area ferrata degli Alpina.  It was a tough start trying not to use the cable, but getting going it was fantastic. It took us about 3.5hours to do the route which we had to ourselves, but as we finished some speed climbing VF’ers arrived just as we came to the top. It was a good decision to get an early start and not have the pressure of the others and have time to enjoy the route. The top of col de Bois was a mere 50m above us so we headed up and popped onto the very windy top. We had spectacular views over to Marmolada and the surrounding mountains. We wandered along the WW1 trenches where the Austrain/Hungarian forces fought the Italians.  We walked over to Lagazuoi Pizo where everyone was dressed in winter kit, (we were in t-shirts) we set off down the tunnels bored into the mountain. This was the Italians attempt to surprise the Austrians and blow them off their strong hold on the top. The tunnels were amazing, huge, lengthy and a complete waste of time. Both sides claimed victory. The path back was scree, but we made it back still in sunshine. An amazing day.

Highs – VF
Lows – sore fingers, Lawr’s sore back
Note – poignant day at the WW1 site. Realising what a complete waste of lives and effort those years brought about. Also amazing was the amount of artefacts still lying about 98years later.

Monday, 16 July 2012

16th Corvara

16th Corvara
Up at silly o’clock again and the weather was looking fabulous. We headed off to Brigatta Tridentina (3b).  It was chilly at 730am, but the sky was blue.
It was a fantastic ‘climb’ and with only two others in front of us we were able to climb at a steady pace with Lawr encouraging me to use the rock and climb instead of using the cable to haul myself up on. (Occasionally I did use it, but only on a couple of exposed scary bits) It was a great morning up to the hut. When about to leave the hut to return on route 666, we spoke with a group leaving to walk up further. Lawr asked them the name of the mountain towering above us. Cima pisciadu, 2985m we were told. Shame not to do it while we are here. So off we went to the top. A classic scramble and a bit of ice and snow thrown in for good measure.
It was a long walk/scramble down, but what a fantastic day.

Highs – top of the mountain
Lows – sore knees
Note – always be prepared to go further.

don't look down.... it's 900m!

15th Bruneck/Corvara

15th Bruneck/Corvara
We woke to a confused weather system, the surrounding area was dry but the sky was threatening another down pour which it did just as we set off on our cycle. We decided to follow the road bike route map we had been given to the Furkel Pass. However after 30mins and 2 dead ends it was clear that there was some anomaly’s with the road and the map. A further 15mins later following signs and getting nowhere, I renamed the pass another ‘f’ word. So we abandoned that and set off to find the lake, following the signs.  After 1km of off roading on the road bikes we were reunited with tarmac again.
Overall an interesting, but frustrating cycle.
After a lazy afternoon we head to the Issingo pool which was amazing. Beautiful facilities and we (I) got rid of the frustration in the pool. A late drive to Corvara as the weather is set to be fantastic next week.

Highs- wild strawberries, pool
Lows- directions to Furkel pass
Note- lifeguard at pool got confused when I asked him for a pool buoy, I think he thought I was asking him on date..

14th Bruneck

14th Bruneck
out for a run around area. We came across A.S Roma training at Riscone. It was amazing how many sausage munching followers were camped out to watch them train. As we passed by the Carabinieri they seemed to like the look of Lawr’s compression socks..
Back home we had a very nice breakfast as we tried to get info on converting our computer to a tv as we are missing the sports. MA gave us great info, but we couldn’t get it to work. (Wonder how the tour is doing, could pop over to see it).
Really nice day but more thunder and lightening later. 

Highs – lovely run, dates
Lows - thunderstorms
Note – van still waterproof

When out that evening we were stopped and asked in German where the Krankenhaus was. It is lucky that Lawr spent three and a half years in Germany and was able to give directions with confidence. The lady drove away confused but somewhat assured. It was only later that Lawr realised that he had sent her to the town hall and not the hospital.

13th Corvara

13th Corvara
So up early (apparently stupidly early). It was bright outside but the car park was deserted.  We had breakfast and packed ready for Brigatta. The car park was still empty. As we set foot outside the rain rolled in and the thunder roared around the valley. We went back in a put on the kettle convinced it would pass, as the forecast had said it would. After 3hours we gave up. And the car park was still empty. So we packed up and set off for Bruneck for some lower key activities. Made it in time to get info on the area and parked in large car park with many other motorhomes. More thunder and lightening and it’s impressive even at 850m.

Highs – nice town, didn’t get caught out on VF
Lows – Lawr’s walking boots smell, weather curbed activities, Law’s sock lost in wash
Note – get an up to date forecast before potentially dangling off metal in the mountains.

12th Corvara/passo Gardina

12th Corvara/passo Gardina
A bit sore this morning so we set out for some gentle via feratta (vf). Started with tschspitze which was very busy and a grade 2b, but nice to get used to the equipment. The hardest part was coming down the scree.  We then wandered over to grand cir which was more a scramble and on the summit was a very chatty Dutch group. Got a touch of vertigo on the summit.!

Highs – first via feratta
Lows – ripped off in car park
Note – planning longer vf for tomorrow, lucky were not superstitious.

11th Corvara

11th Corvara
Prior to coming to Italy Lawr tried to enter us in the Maratona dles Dolomites. I was pleased that it was full and that we would do a version of the route ourselves. It takes in 8 passes over 86miles. Easy I thought, but at 56miles I ran out of energy and had to cycle to the top of passo pordoi joch before we could get food, and I believe that hot chocolate and strudel should be classed as miracle foods. It was a spectacular cycle in terms of ascent, descent and scenery. The weather was kind, it was just tough. But worth doing if you are out here; just take plenty grub. Knackered and back at the van a bottle of wine was required to assist recovery.

Highs – maratona route completed, strudel
Lows – bonk, slow ascent of passo pordoi, porches
Note – it is the first time I have considered getting a chair lift up the hill with my road bike
the Welsh top out in Italy

10th nr Corvara

10th nr Corvara
First day in the area and it’s quite damp, but we head off to get all the information we need.  Tourist office is really helpful. It starts to pour down but spirits are not dampened as there is so much to do. We head off to the pool to and chat to the attendant who speaks great English (which he learnt from films), Ladin, German, French, Spanish (acquired while touring in south America). After a pleasant swim we head back into town but the rain and lightening has cranked up a notch and we head to a café for a warming coffee.

 Highs –too much to do in the time we have
Lows – thunderstorms (but they are exciting), no public toilets in Corvara, campsite 34euros a night
Note – An American lady asked Lawr if he was Welsh?!

9th – Nr Corvara

9th – Nr Corvara
On the road to the mountains, heading east towards Corvara/Cortina with the intention of cycling the Maratona dles Dolomites, then clambering over some via feratta, with some other things involving dangling and being scared thrown in.  On the drive the views of the massive rock faces are inspiring but also intimidating.  We stop of in a car pack north of Corvara near the vf route Brigatta. The night turns very stormy with the lightening hitting the peaks behind us. We are soon joined by 8 other campers. Safety in numbers…

Highs - Lawr gets his cycle top changed, spectacular mountains
Lows - area very busy (knew nothing of it before arriving)
Note – Lawrs new cycle top is an xxl! His quote was something like ‘bloomin slinky Italians’ ’

Monday, 9 July 2012

7th-8th july

8th Glorenza
So up and on with today’s challenge. The pass awaits. It lloks nice here at 950m, but we think it may be chilly at the top so pack up a small bag of warm bits and bobs. We set out steady and stayed steady as we were unsure what to expect, apart from the famous 46 haipin bends. It was amazing looking up to the top as the bends snaked their way up the hillside, but they would help take the sting out of the gradient so that was good. We were passed and then we passed the same Italian cycle club who we think were intimidated by our club tops. Time passed quickly, the vehicles passed closely (a few narrow escapes) and the bends allowed you to take in the views, quite breath-taking!  
The compact chain rings were more than enough to cope with the hill and we had a fantastic cycle to the top.

After a quick picture, layering on the clothing and sealing a deal for a new cycle top we headed down. Law taking the lead; both with teeth chattering and for some reason I started to sing about the worm called wiggly-woo?

We took the roads heading to St Maria which was a good choice as it was much quieter. Maybe because, as we found out, part of it was unpaved! But back in the valley it was warm again, so a quick coffee, off with the wind proofs and back home.

A fabulous Sunday cycle.

Stelvio Top 2760m

Highs – 2760m
Lows – mad motorists
Note - in 2013 Stelvio is going to be a toll road. Is this due to its profile being raised by a popular motoring programme??

7th Glorenza
Stopped by the side of the river to find out about the weather and tomorrows challenge – Stelvio Pass.

addition to Villar - then 6th july

I was in such a relaxed mode I forgot to mention the hand bike competition we had at the horse jumping competition which had been set up on the ski car park. It was an amazing set up considering the car park is on a slope and the arena was flat.

Anyway as we all wandered round the stalls and displays we noticed a hand bike where you could get timed over 400m. So George went first and apart from uncomfortable it looked tough. He glided his way to a very good time of around 51secs. So the gauntlet was thrown and the Welshman took up the challenge, however due to a technical hitch we had time to take on some legal performance enhancing substances before our turn.

When it was fixed Lawr took centre stage and thrashed his way to a good time beating the Paralympic athlete’s time by 0.1sec.

So now it was my turn;  let’s just say I’ll not be ask to be even a reserve on the team..

Saw a couple of guys out on similar bikes in Stelvio, they made it look so easy.

6th Abulapass (2312m)

We have driven over some ridiculous roads to the east and are now in German speaking Switzerland and were nearly trampled off the road in a cow drive. The roads are very wet and twisting but they would make a lovely route of a sadistic cycle tour. Have stopped at the pass as we are tired and weather is pants. Hope it clears for some views tomorrow.

Highs – new part of trip, met Strickland’s in Villars

Lows – complex roads off motorway

Note – pylons above us are crackling in the heavy rain..

Thursday, 5 July 2012

3-5th Villars

It is such a beautiful place to stay that our short visit has been extended to friday. We fit in the usual 101 things.
we try a spot of roller blading. In my head i have a picture of grace and elegance, gliding along the tarmac. In reality i stumble around even with the help of Georges hand and Lawr manages a few rests on his bottom. We are knackered after 30mins.
Next up is the tandem which we manage to ride with out crashing, must have a go on the front next time!
We road bike up and down the various cols and have a lovely swim in a puddle in the valley.
Rob and Kirsty come to visit and we have a great chat with them.
It has been the usual busy but relaxing time at G & C's and we will be sad to leave, but the trip must go on.
highs - 2nd-5th campsite
lows - days to short to do all the activites and
note - the world does seem to be a small place

2nd Switzerland - Villars

Ouch feeling a little stiff this morning. We plump for a gentle walk to aid recover before embarking on the musical parking places to exit the aire.
We drive along lac leman towards Switzerland. Have a hankering to go for a swim, but there may be a possibility to swim later, so carry on till we finally get to Villars.
We park up at George and Carols and as always we are made to feel at home and we make the most of it.
Spend the night in good company before retiring to the van for what ends up being our first chilly night for some time.
highs - home from home
lows - long drive to get here
note - think we are getting soft as we are feeling chilly even in 15'c temperatures

1st july annecy

The big day - Annecy triathlon.
Unfortunately the wetsuit debate went on most of the morning, but after seeing one other person wetsuitless we go for our first triathlon open water non wetsuit swim!
Due to the lengthy briefing i have 3mins to get to the line in the water and have to have a bit of a sprint to get there on time. Lawr hangs back with the elite men with whom he has the pleasure of starting with.
After the lake swim we are directed up a narrow canal and by now the top men have caught some of the women and are swimming over us. The water is shallow and i can almost pull myself along in the weeds. The transtion had a seat and we both use it for a wee pre cycle rest! The roads are a little wet and there are quite a few crashes, but seperately we have a good cycle and pass quite a few of our fellow competitors. (I was passed by a guy wearing the best pair of budgie smugglers i have seen in a long time)
The run covered two laps and it gave us plenty time to eye up the competion. Nursing sore limbs we both manage round in reasonable 10km times.
We wait in the rain to watch the presentation, but somehow i get 2nd non licensed female and have to clamber over the fencing as Lawr, oblivious, chats away to an ex Cardiff rugby player.
A good day out. still wearing compression socks.
It is still raining.
highs - openwater no wetsuit, finish goodies
lows - cold end to day
note - chairs are a great idea in transition

30th Annecy

A rest day - ish. The usual routine of swim but this time we locked our kit together in the beach. After the swim we become very itchy and have to have an extended shower to relieve the itching.
We wandered into the town to the market which is massive and got Lawr some elastic laces for tomorrow. On the return to the aire it had become whacky races with camper moving everywhere, so we settle down to watch the 'fun'.
In the evening we went to register for sunday. I had no problem, but Lawr got the 3rd degree and was asked for several documents (i told him not to say he was Welsh).  Eventually we were allowed to register and that was that. The only problem now - should we wear wetsuits. We decide that we should swim 'free' but take the suits along incase of a last minute panic (which is likely).
Post tea we head to the lake and get mentally prepared for tomorrow.
highs - free apricots, nice day, fish pedicure in lake
lows - nearly not getting into triathlon
note - debating the possibility of water fleas after todays swim itch

29th Annecy

With the possibility of having to swim in wetsuits we decide to do a day break dip to the lake before it gets to hot for the neoprene. We head off out to the bouys and have a nice swim, a few others out and we are told the water must be about 21'c. As we get out of the water Lawr asks me why i put our changing bag next to the bin. I hadn't. And as we look inside the bag Lawr's towel and shoes are missing. He took off with out a word, well only a sweary word and i had no idea where he is going, but years of Merthyr life have given him insight. I check about the toilets and buildings before i decide that I should find Lawr, he appears chest puffed and towel and shoes intact.
Apparently he ran along the busy road in his tri suit barefooted as he had spotted the thiefs with his shoes on and his towel on his shoulder. Long story short we nearly got everything back.
Being such a lovely morning and with some adrenaline to spare we have a pleasant cycle round the lake and after a headset bearing hunt we settle for fig bread and sables.
Quick splash to cool off before bike titivation for sunday.
Great day
highs - lake swim, cycle, dusk swim
lows - thiefs
note -trust your intuition and instinct

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

28th Annecy

After a bit of musical 'chairs' we finally get a proper space in the aire and get the awning half out. we set out as the day is heating up on the triathlon cycle route. Up col Leschaux, then down a little before a few little energy sapping climbs, then a fast descent back to the lake. Warmed up we have a coffee to perk us up and head off to the lake. Still to hot for wetsuits so we headout towards the bouys swimming through hot and cold patches. We are slightly concerned about getting cramp but stay together just incase. Lovely swim. The aire is hot so we take ourselves to the lakeside and i watch to swimmers have a close encounter with a speed boat...thankfully they are fine and we relax.
highs - swim, bike descents, other triathletes in aire from Italy
lows - surprising and long cycle route for sunday
note -  may have managed to relax this afternoon

27th Annecy

So a special day, our wedding anniversary we think. (My mum confirmed this!)
As we looked out at lake Annecy, it was emerald green. We squeezed our way into the aire and wandered down to the lake for a swim. It was surprisingly warm and we swam without wetsuits. The lake has to be above 16'c before you can choose to were a wetsuit or not in the triathlon this sunday. Back for our anniversery meal and an evening wander along the lake side which is busy with rollerbladers, runners, cyclists and in the lake, swimmers.
highs - emerald lake
lows - dangerous crossing cycle path with fast cyclists
note - almost remembered wedding anniversary

26th Bedoin

So after a really windy night we stepped out into the desert and accepted that it would be 32'c and 50km/h winds. As we were passed by the first professional rider on the day, he said to me have courage. Flip i had only done 2km. It was a steady but relentless climb allowing you to get in a rythmn unlike some of the other cols we have done. As Lawr passed an american cyclist the american tried to tuck in out of the wind behind Lawr only to declare a couple of miniutes later that he wasn't getting enough of a draft as Lawr was too skinny!!
As the photographers took photos of us then ran after us with their online shop info the wind got very cheeky and with 5km to go the gusts were quite unsettling, nearly leaving the road on several occasions. Due to some very selffish car drivers we got blown onto the lower road that leads around the top, so it was a bit of circumnavigation to eventually get to the very windy top.
Once out of the wind the descent was fantastic and back over the col de la madeline was beautiful. Back on the road we drove through some amazing gorges, bought some of the best apricots, cherries and olives we have ever had before parking up in Albertville near Conflans.
highs - Ventoux, cooler in Albertville
lows - gusty winds
note - buy from local producers if possible

25th le barcares

it's our last day here and the rennovations are ongoing, they must be spending millions.
So must go back in for a swim as it's our last day. Yesterday Lawr got a sea unrchin spike in his hand as we were swimming next to the rocks. Today he touched a jelly fish on one of the 'laps' but remained calm as not to 'alert' me. However i caught it in my hand on the third lap and as my heart raced i swam like rebbeca adlington in an olympic final to get away from it.
Coming back from the beach we saw the lady we had met yesterday putting croissants and fresh juice on our van window for us.
The Scottish born lady, M and her pooch, Lola were making sure we were ok and invited us on board the yacht for breakfast. In a flash we were showered and dressed. The boat was beautiful. We chatted and eat and had a look round, then reluctantly left hoping our paths would cross again.
We started on the road north, a bit later than planned, but how could we refuse coffee on the yacht. Since we would be passing near Mt Ventoux we decide we should give it a go tomorrow and we make the aire just as darkness falls.
highs - breakfast and the company
lows - satnav
note - we had a discussion as the wind swirled around the van if ventoux meant windy hill. We'll see tomorrow.

24th le barcares

still here. Need new headset bearings so made our way to decathlon only to find it was shut, but a nice cycle anyway. Only thing that happened was in the middle of a small town, st laurent we were shouted at by a young french motorist. I couldn't catch the full sentence he said in good english, but it ended in sheep sh..gers. (Lawr's bloomin welsh top) We nearly feel off our bikes laughing. Back at home we wandered through the busy market and then back to the beach, but not just any beach to the new one they have been constructing while we have been here. It's pretty busy now on the sand. We have a lovely swim and meet a lady who tells us to wish for what we want - going to try that tonight.
highs - Lawrs new underwear, swim/cycle
lows - being called a Sheep S......
note - a siesta is an essential survival skill in hot climates, but Lawr always takes it a bit to far

23rd le barcares

So the day started and we headed out early for a wee hurl on the bikes. The route took us through lovely villages and saw some fabulous crags  and views. The temperature was slowly increasing. The road was quite apart from the wild boar and young who crossed the road just in front of us. The other traffic involved a 2CV rally who were 'ripping' up the road and a female scooter driver who gave Lawr a nod of approval as she passed by! It was a tough cycle and a good excuse for a post lunch siesta. When fully refreshed we headed to the beach for a dip and some frisbee lessons. I didn't mean to throw the frisbee quite that hard at Lawr's head..
highs - cycle and the lovely day
lows - Lawr wants a 2CV
note - despite telling a passing french cyclist we could only speak a little french we manage to have a reasonable bike related conversation.

Friday, 22 June 2012

20-22 le barcares

as Lawr had bought a fishing rod, he thought he better go out and irritate some fish. I thought i'd try a spot of sunbathing. After a few hours we exchanged notes - Lawr had caught noting, but i had definately caught the sun! Like it here.
highs - Lawr first time fishing on trip
lows - no fish caught
note - must remember most of our northern skin has not seen the sun for years

planned a cycle route around the lake - no hills. Then tried the run after the cycle thing, which wa very sore. recovery floating in sea. It has beome amazingly windy (outside the van) and parked alongside the port we were concerned we may end up in the sea.
highs - gettting Lawr up for early training session
lows - sore knees
note - managed to fit a kilo of fromage de brebis in our small fridge

a short sea swim this morning, It was quite choppy. Le barcares are planting palm trees and generally getting ready for the summer to start! think it is time we considered moving to cooler climes. Time is passing quickly. still can't get pictures on blog.
highs - being here
lows - time
note - lpg system on van has been fantastic and very cheap to fill!! Although must remember to check gauge regularly.

19th Figueres

So culture day today. Started with some normal swimming in the pool. Then Dali was something else. It was amazing to see the range of his talent! But after 2hours we were cultured out. Had a wander around the town then back to le barcares where we are almost residents.
highs - Dali, swim
lows - too much culture
note - when negogiating a roundabout in Spain it doen't matter which lane you choose some nutter will cut you up and it'll be up to you to avoid t-boning him...

18th port selve - Figueres

so after a chilly swim in the shallows of the bay (i did see some fish but thankfully they were very small) We drove down to Figueres to see Dali. However with a stop for some tshirt shopping at decathlon we missed the museum for today! Then bought 6litres of lemonade instead of water. Parked up at sports complex and listened to Spain celebrating into the small hours. Hot.
highs -  swim, t shirts, c/spot
lows - missed museum
note - when did lemonade become cheaper than water?

17th banyuls - port selve

we took off for an early cycle to col Banyuls. It took us into spain on winding back roads then back to Llanca, cerbere, banyuls. The Saint-Cyprien cycle group were out for a sunday ride. As we casually cycled up the coastal road taking in the views the St Cyp leaders cycled along side Lawr (who was in his loud welsh top) and started chanting Franca, Franca. Well this was too much for the him and suddenly the welsh weapon was released and he acceleration up the hill with his trusty side kick in his draft!
So back at the van a little shakey after our 'gentle' cycle we headed off to find a rest stop for the night.
highs - sunday cycle, market, cricket chorus
lows - can't cool down
note - it would appear a welshman will always take on a challenge.

16th june le barcares - port vendras

started the day with a run along the pan flat roads (coud get used to this) then into the sea to 'cool' off, before heading on the coastal road south. It took us to every port and bay, but it was very pretty. The aires are very busy now but we managed to squeeze our petite camper inbetween the monster motor homes. We wandered around to the port where a number of Jamaican gin palaces were moored. It is much hotter just this we bit down the coast.
highs - sun, general fitness, fruits, new area to explore
lows - sore feet in heat
note - Lawr has found his fly swat

15th june - Le barcares

Le barcares
Life in the fast lane again. A leisurely stroll in the morning with Lawr trying out some very expensive saucisson. At 60euros a kilo we kept going.  Lovely weather so a swim was in order. No sign of swim caps and goggles so it was looking like we'd have to breaststroke today, but on passing the lifeguard station he recognised us (think it was our natural tan that gave us away) and had collected our things we'd left behind last week!
Relaxing day
highs - relaxed day, sea swim
lows - day not long enough
note -Lawr met a lady from the Rhonnda who lives here. (They are everywhere)

Friday, 15 June 2012

cycle bit

9th june
so with the van dropped off in Parcar again we headed for the train station again. Hopped on and off the trains quite happily, however on the last train we had a stroppy conductor who told us no bikes on this train! We double checked with a lovely lady who told us no problem so on we got. Then stroppy conductor marched up to us and demanded our tickets. Told him we had paid extra for the bikes but he kept saying 'Ou? Ou?' It took all our strength not to break into the jungle book song, 'ooo i wanna be like you ooo'. Thankfully we did zip it and the train rumbled on with us on board. Only 5hours to go.
It was raining at Hendaye. Were stopped by a french cyclist and asked for a shot of our pump. We headed for hotel Gare, basic room but comfortable. Noisy outside but fell asleep quickly despite it.
highs - hendaye again, another challenge
lows - trainman, sunday tomorrow
note - flipflops are dangerous, Lawr slipped down a set of stone steps, survived with only a wet bum, I was almost sick watching it...

10th june hendaye - larun
started out well at 6am with photo at beach. Overcast and windy but fine for cycling. Over col st ignace, felt a little tough with the luggage! Group of sunday cyclists passed us (not as good looking as scottish group) Lawr thought about jumping on the back but within 2mins they were gone and we plodded on. Up col pinodeita and then on to col d'osquich where it rained and rained and rained. On with the goretex and kept on going. The cyclists got fewer as the day went on. Over col de marie-blanque. We went via Ollon to avoid a poor back road, but made it to Larun on our last legs. Thankfully picked up food earlier in day so showered and fed. Absolutely knackered. Wonder what tomorrow has in store.
highs - good sunday cycle, cheeseman helpful, dog
lows - forecast, afternoon weather
note - so called cyclists forgot their chain oil

11th june larun - arreu
started with the col d'aubisque which was tough but the sun/cloud stayed with us. Over to col soulor where we hoped for a choco stop, but it was shut. Kitted up and headed down with masses of cyclists climbing from the other side. Had to perform a rescue on the way down as we noticed a collie pup diving through the traffic and cyclists. Eventually caught the fluff ball and as i was working out how to secure it in my goretex a lovely Italian Lady offered to take it to the village. We made it without any further rescues to Merens and had a lunch stop and tried to warm up. Lawr wanted nutella and banana bagettes. Felt sick after it. Onto Luz for essential cheese stop and put the half kilo in Lawr's pannier. Then there was the Tourmalet. It was lengthy and tough but a good ride. Looking back the road was spectacular. Chatted to some Brits at the top. Kitted up and on the decent it snowed and hailed on us. We were freezing but a stop for coffee at Payolle and col d'aspin would surely help? I practised some bike balancing as i crawled up the not so steep hill and the rain and wind at the top was awful.  We began the descent, 13km of wet, wild, windy winding road. Both suffering, shouting at each other to try to stay alert and keep warm. Took first hotel which was not the best with no heating, it was a chilly evening. Have to question our sanity.
highs - morning cols, didn't die on decsent, more cheese from Luz, pup rescue
lows - appalling weather, near death experience, cold hotel, having to give up pup.
note - note weather forecast and plan accordingly.

12th june arreu - saint girons
cold morning in hotel. All kit still wet. Not to worry, col de peyresourde would help dry things out. Had gone up this on the walk and it was a fine climb. Lawr was disappointed the crepeman was not open at the top of the col. Very fast and chilly descent to Luchon for food stop. Had horrible hot choco so sent it back, cafe was freezing so we moved on. Went to supermarket and bought a newspaper, not for its contents, but its thermal properties. Along road to co des ares and beret then a gentle down to st lary before the col de portet d'aspet. It was sunny the newspaper was stowed and the jackets were off as this col we were told was up to 14.2%.  Set out tentatively, it was a tough but fair climb. It was a massive descent into the valley where we kept up the pace and 'out sprinted' the rain. Into st Girons and the hotel flamme rouge hotel. All kit washed and dried. Looks like tomorrow has some busy road sections.
highs - no soaking, dry shorts, portet d'aspet not so bad, found sense of humour again (lost it yesterday)
lows - cold morning, horrible hot choco
note - don't get intimidated by someone else's account of a climb.

13th june st giron - puigcerda
left at a tardy 7.30am. quite warm and not raining (spain is always so warm). Seems to take forever to get to Massat, then we climbed to col de caougnous and col de porte. We had a freewheel down which was a little chilly. Needed to refuel with crossiants, did so at Tarrason, then a long main road drag to Ax. It was warm now and with cakes in the panniers we began the long climb to l'hospitalet and col de puymorens. Had really shakely spell half way so lightened the load by eating the cakes. Irish couple chatted to us at top and questioned our sanity. Then we went off to spain for the evening. Ended up in cheap hotel which was great. Owned by Romanian lady would couldn't do enough for us.
highs - last major col, sheeps milk, massive bed, food, sun, spain
lows - totally fatigued, Lawr has sore bum
note - with fatigued legs we found our room was on the 4th floor (reserved for the fit clients i presume)

14th june puigcerda - van
chilly but blue sky this morning in spain. set off on last part of trip in a very quite town. Surroundings getting flatter. Great views all round and could see the col we had struggled over in the snow last month. As we flagged, or just desired a stop, we came across a patisserie in Saillagouse. Almond croissants :) An undulating road to col llous, rogat and perche where we had the most fantastic descent. Quite roads, warm air, great views! Col st pierre and ternere passed without noticing then along some back roads with loads of fruit producers. Our timing was great, as usual, so we had to wait for Parcar to open. Reunited again with the beautiful van we set off to restock and plan stage three.
In the supermarket car park some plonker parked their car in full sun with the dogs inside so i went to report them. However they came back and drove off as i was getting my message across, so we didn't have to perform a smash and grab.
we love our van.
highs - descent, apricots, regional wine
lows - sore body bits
note - as i cycled over a squashed snake i mention it to Lawr. He replied - 'what? swiss steak?' clearly hunger had gotten the better of him..

A great adventure and challenge :)