Author Topic: P & Ps Picos Pyrenees trip  (Read 4514 times)

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  • Offline Hartley   england

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    Offline Hartley

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    P & Ps Picos Pyrenees trip
    on: Jul 21, 2018, 11.00 am
    Jul 21, 2018, 11.00 am
    We left Sunday morning for the ferry from Plymouth to Santander, both of us were a little apprehensive as neither of us is good on boats. I also had my concerns about taking a bike on the ferry. After an easy ride down to Plymouth, it was in to a pub to get some lunch and watch the first five goals of England game. Half time came and it was time to head to the port.

    Just over half hour later the bike was parked up and strapped down on the ferry didn’t even have time to worry about it. Found the cabin, shower and change and to the bar for a well-earned cold one, or two.  The sea was like a millpond so we both felt fine, had dinner and an early night.



    After a good night’s sleep and a decent breakfast on board by 2.00pm Monday we were riding on Spanish tarmac. The direct route to hotel was about 1 1/2 hrs ride from Santander but I’d got a longer route in the Garmin so we opted for that. That took 3 1/2 hours to get to Las Arenas and the Hotel Pico de Europa. (Recommended)

    Tuesday
    As posted on this site one of the main roads to ride in this area, from Panes to Potes was closed during our trip so I’d knocked up a route bypassing it. All I can say is that it must be some road because we were out from about 9.30 and back at 7.30 pm, rode 240 miles and not 1 inch of dull road. We had lunch at Fuente De where theres a cablecar which is a must do.  This place is incredible.

     














    Wednesday
    The forecast was poor for Wednesday hence we’d ridden longer than originally planned on Tuesday in case Wednesday was a wash out. As it happened there was a storm on Tuesday night and Wednesday ended cloudy but dry. Actually spent most of the day riding in the clouds occasionally popping out of the top. Bit of a jittery start, as the previous nights storm had left the roads wet with loads of rocks and debris about which on the tight twisty roads didn’t do a lot for my confidence. That said was still a great 200 mile day.










    Thursday.
    Las Arenas to Pamplona 240 Mile

    We said goodbye to the Picos and take the 240 mile ride to Pamplona. Another cloudy but dry start to the day. The road from Las Arenas to Panes is lovely, then it’s an hour or so on the motorway to just past Santander where we head south on some more interesting roads. These were lovely, good surface, mixture of tight and long sweeping bends. The sky was breaking up and temperature about 20, pretty much perfect. I said to Paula, I’d be very happy to ride like this all the way today, nice relaxed, easy riding.  Around midday we started climbing into the hills, the temperature seemed to drop pretty quickly and before long we were heading into cloud.  The higher we went the thicker it got. Before long visibility was down to about 10 feet. This is another time where the GPS comes in handy as an early warning system.  I could see that there were several hairpins coming up which helped a little. We were almost down to walking pace when the white lines down the centre of the road and to my right, that I’d been using to guide us, seemed to go different directions. It was in fact a very tight left hander with viewing area on the right, I’m assuming looking over the valley a long way below us. We got a little bit closer to finding the fast way down than I really was happy with.  Thankfully this was the top and we gradually started descending and visibility started increasing. Once we dropped out of the cloud we got an idea of what we would have seen from the top, it was really stunning and just a shame we’d not been able to see it from higher. Eventually the cloud lifted and the sun came out and we were back riding lovely roads onto Pamplona and our hotel for the night.

    Friday
    Pamplona to Formigal 217 miles.

    Woke up to blue skies and sunshine for our ride into to the Pyrenees.
    The plan for the next few days was to zigzag back and forth across the France / Spanish border all the way to the Med. It was an absolutely brilliant days riding with constantly changing scenery. Something that struck me on this trip was how diverse the landscapes are. Some areas the look like the Alps, some like the Dolomites, forests valleys it’s absolutely beautiful.  There’s also every type of road too. Smooth fast flowing bends, full lock hairpins, some cut into cliff sides and one in particular that had a surface like a corrugated roof that nearly shook my fillings out.
    Just as my belly was telling me it was time for lunch we saw a little sign pointing up a track off a hairpin for a restaurant. What a find that was.
    While tucking into barbecued lamb chops a group on vintage motorcycles pulled up. One of them had a little problem and through I didn’t understand what the others were saying I fully got the ribbing he was getting from his mates. Different language. Same banter.








    The rest of the day was just as great and we arrived at our hotel in Formigal just before 6.00 and about 30 minutes before it poured down.
    Formigal was like a ghost town and I think we shared our massive hotel with about 4 other guests. 
    I’d booked half board as I had a feeling not much would be open. What a great move that proved to be. The menu of the day was excellent, washed down with a few glasses of red and wound up with a G&T and it was the end to a superb day. 





    Saturday
    Formigal to Castejón du Sos 178 miles.

    Another beautiful morning as we leave Formigal. Though the mileage was shorter today the sat nav was still saying 5 hours riding time.  We were straight onto Cols today, our first being the Col du Pourtalet. Next would be the Route du Cols but unfortunately the road was closed on the Col d Aubisque meaning a 30 mile detour. The detour itself took in the Col d Solour before it rejoined our planned route. I have to say, as detours go it was quite something and if I’d had a little more fuel in my tank I’d have probably enjoyed it more.
     There’s some strange creatures in these parts, roads are full of them, they ride motorcycles without engines. Occasionally you’ll get stuck behind a flock of them. (not such an issue if it’s the female of the species  :164:).






    Obviously many of these roads are a long way up but some really feel it, the Col du Tourmalet is one of those, I’m not great with heights so I do sometimes wonder what I’m doing in these places.



    Heading back into Spain onto the highly recommend N260 was a great way to end the day.  We found the Spanish roads tended to be in far better condition than those in France. One thing to be very careful off are the Tar Snakes or over banding where they repair cracks the road.  When its warm these things are so slippery. Mostly theyre black so you can see them but a lot in the Pyrenees seem to be grey, the same colour as the road so are not so obvious. Felt the bike move on these a few times.

    Our hotel for the night was in a little town called Castejón du Sos and was a real find. Highly recommended.



    Few beers and a pizza after a very long day hit the spot perfectly.

    Sunday
    Castejón to Ripoll, 180 miles

    Today we’d be staying in Spain, actually staying on the same road all day. The N260 had been recommended several times and it didn’t disappoint.










    Monday,
    Ripoll, Badia du Portbou, Ripoll 140 miles
    We had two nights in Ripoll and I’d worked out a loop from here to the coast and back but I have to admit feeling a bit knackered as we’ve been on the bike everyday so far. We decided to take the quickest route to the coast for lunch and have a shorter day. Again we followed the N260, all the way to its starting point on the Spain / France border. Stopped for lunch by the sea and rode back to Ripoll. So much for a short day, still did about 4 hrs riding and 140 miles.








    Tuesday,
    Ripoll to Carcassonne 180 miles.

    Today we’d be saying goodbye to Spain, hello to Andorra and onto Carcassonne for 2 nights.

    The day started off by backtracking about 50 miles or so on the N260 again. (Not a hardship) then north into Andorra.  We’ve been to Andorra before, about 23 years ago skiing. It was abit different this time.

    The first town you hit after crossing the border is a nightmare. After the quiet roads of Spain for the last week or so the chaos of this place was unbelievable. We were cut up, pulled out on, drivers changing minds on roundabouts, the place was absolutely bonkers. Even the satnav went doolally!
    Once we cleared the town is was a nice ride with a lunch stop at the top.






    Back into France and we cleared the traffic and it was on to Carcassonne, this was a lovely ride on the La Route des Cols.






    As we arrived in Carcassonne the temp was hitting 35. (got a bit hotter watching England Columbia later that night ) We were both looking forward to a day off the bike tomorrow.

    Wednesday 

    Carcassonne was a great place to just wander around for a day and as much as I enjoy riding the CT we were both certainly ready for a bike free day.







    Thursday
    Carcassonne to Vichy. 305 miles

    The highlight for today was always going to be the Millau Bridge. I’d worked a route that would take us under it then round, onto the highway and across the bridge heading north.

    As we left Carcassonne the weather wasn’t great with light rain and very low cloud so I had my concerns about the views we’d get at Millau. Fortunately it picked up and though still a little cloudy it didn’t take anything from this incredible structure.




    After crossing the bridge it was the direct route to Vichy for the night.
    I’d opted for a Campernile as a thought we may arrive late and I know they have a restaurant on site. I’ve used them before and they’ve been fine. As was this one. However there were a sports team staying there also, who seemed to congregate around my bike when they got back from an evening out which made me uneasy. In fairness they didn’t touch the bike but they were banging about til around 3 am so not much sleep that night.

    Friday,
    We had always planed an early start as today would be a long day. With
    only a couple of hours sleep I have to say I wasn’t in the best frame of mind and shattered. I considered opting for the direct motorway to Troyes. But then I figured riding the B road route I had planned would stand more chance of keeping me alert. That ended being the right choice.
     It was a wonderful ride up to Troyes. Not demanding or fast but a real leisurely ride through the French country side, great road surface wide open views. One of those nothing days that ends up being one of your most enjoyable, with a few unexpected surprises.

    Troyes also turned out to be a great place for a relaxed evening, so after the groggy start it ended up being a really good day.









    Saturday
    Troyes to Northampton  395 miles

    When id been planning the trip we’d opted for an afternoon Eurotunnel crossing with the idea of having a chilled morning in Troyes before heading home, However, the England Football Team were exceeding expectations and were still in the World Cup. Kick off would be while we were under the Channel.
    So after an early breakfast we headed upto the tunnel with the hope we’d get an early train and maybe stop in a pub somewhere in the UK for lunch and watch the game. The 250 miles in France were despatched easily and by 12.00 we were at the tunnel. We were given the option of an earlier train and as we road off the the train the Garmin was saying we’d get home 10 mins before kick off, happy days!

    What Garmin doesn’t know about is the UKs new smart motorways, the motorways maybe be smart, not so sure about the muppets that control them. With the exception of the Dartford tunnel the roads were not that busy but in the 145 miles from the tunnel to Northampton I think we must have done 25 without a speed restriction. It was 32 degrees that day, we did 10 miles at 50 apparently due to fog. Another 12 miles due to a stranded vehicle, a VW Beetle parked up in the refuge area. The rest of the time it was a “ Reported Obstruction in carriageway” we saw nothing. It was ridiculous. End of rant.
    Anyway, we walked in the door just in time to see Maguire score at 30 mins into the game. We were home and we thought, “It” was coming home too! Oh well, nice while it lasted.

    In total we did 2997 miles in 13 days.
    It was a great trip. In hindsight the only thing id change is that I should have planned slightly shorter days.  Most days were around 5 ½ to 6 hrs riding time which by the time you’ve had breaks, fuel stops, pics etc meant we were arriving at our hotels around 5.30 to 6.30. On previous trips in aim for 4 ½ hrs riding time which just gave us a little more time in the evenings. That said, we had a route to do and unfortunately not unlimited holiday.


    MPG wish the bike did between 46 and 52 which I think is pretty good considering that’s 2 up with luggage. ( That did actually drop to 42 on the run from Troyes to the tunnel )

    The CT took it all in its stride yet again with the only issue being that rubbish handbrake which needed adjusting. I wonder if there a reason why Honda cannot give the DCT a “Park” setting like on a Car?

    Bike now has 15200 miles on it in 18 months (4000 miles per year on PCP has gone out the window  :138:) and has just been in for the 16k service. Bit early I know but its going to be stretching its legs again in a couple of weeks heading down to Switzerland.  :305:

    Happy days!






  • Offline scotsy

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    Offline scotsy

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    Re: P & Ps Picos Pyrenees trip
    Reply #1 on: Jul 21, 2018, 04.54 pm
    Jul 21, 2018, 04.54 pm
    What a great report Paul. Sounds like a well planned trip  :152:

    i am currently 'post-trip' and suffering from a lack of motivation (and the finances) to do anything about it.

    Didn't you visit the Covadonga lakes?

    ian  :305:

  • Offline Hartley   england

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    Offline Hartley

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    Re: P & Ps Picos Pyrenees trip
    Reply #2 on: Jul 21, 2018, 05.09 pm
    Jul 21, 2018, 05.09 pm
    Hi Ian,

    I remembered you recommending the lakes, we rode up to the roundabout where they close the road on the of chance of getting up there but with no luck. The plan was to go back in the evening but both nights it chucked it down so we never got there.

    Reason to go back  :038:


  • Offline Dave56   gb

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    Offline Dave56

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    Re: P & Ps Picos Pyrenees trip
    Reply #3 on: Jul 21, 2018, 05.21 pm
    Jul 21, 2018, 05.21 pm
    Great ride report Paul, really enjoyed reading of you and Paula’s trip.  :028:
    Really wetted my appetite for my trip in September.  :046:
    Thanks for taking the time to post mate.  :028:
    "The more the miles, the bigger the smiles"

  • Offline Fatsam47

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    Re: P & Ps Picos Pyrenees trip
    Reply #4 on: Jul 21, 2018, 05.41 pm
    Jul 21, 2018, 05.41 pm
    Excellent report Paul, with some great photos.   :047: You certainly put some miles in. That is definitely on my to do list.

     A group CT ride to that part of the world would be great. :001:

  • Offline Dave56   gb

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    Offline Dave56

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    Re: P & Ps Picos Pyrenees trip
    Reply #5 on: Jul 21, 2018, 06.12 pm
    Jul 21, 2018, 06.12 pm
    *Originally Posted by Fatsam47 [+]

     A group CT ride to that part of the world would be great. :001:

    Now there’s a thought....!  :047:
    "The more the miles, the bigger the smiles"

  • Offline Hartley   england

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    Offline Hartley

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    Re: P & Ps Picos Pyrenees trip
    Reply #6 on: Jul 22, 2018, 01.59 pm
    Jul 22, 2018, 01.59 pm
    Certainly doable, boat both ways with 5 days or so in Spain, not cheap but oh so good.


  • Offline GADGET

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    Offline GADGET

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    Re: P & Ps Picos Pyrenees trip
    Reply #7 on: Jul 22, 2018, 03.42 pm
    Jul 22, 2018, 03.42 pm
    Enjoyed your report, thanks for a good read, in fact I was over there on my CT, with a small group, for much of the same time, and back again in September! :002: