Geo: 42.7713, -0.334482
After another wonderful breakfast with Phil and Belinda, we hit the road about 10 am for a journey over the mountains into Spain. At Phil's urging we changed our route to include a brief stop in Lourdes, the Grotto and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes where visitors come from around the world to be anointed with the holy water. Upon arrival, we were amazed at the number of people in blue wheel chairs and carts being pushed by a whole cadre of volunteers to the shrine. Most were sick or infirm and were there hoping for their own miracle cure from the sacred waters of the shrine. Most everyone wore bright colored scarves, signifying their visit.
From Lourdes, we headed down to Argeles-Gazost for a brief coffee stop and leg stretch. This quaint little town is where D918 starts it's climb into the Pyrenees to Col du Solour, the route of a previous Tour de France, and a popular bike route. We had heavy bike traffic due to the fact that it was a Saturday and there was a rally along the route to Spain. As the road narrowed, the cloud coverage became very heavy, like a
Gourette town center
Gourette town center
dense fog. T\When we reached the summit, our visibility continued to decrease as we headed higher to the Col d'Aubisque, at 1710 meters.
The road continued to narrow and the bike traffic created some real congestion. At one point we could barely see 10 feet in front of us. It was a challenge to maintain our momentum,in some of the very steep areas behind a group of riders, barely moving at a walking pace. After we cleared that summit the road continued to wind along the side of the mountain, thru tunnels, with shear drop offs and spectacular views of the valleys below.
We stopped for fuel in Eaux-Bonnes and had a problem with the bike not starting. We jumped started it and continued up D934, enjoying more incredible vistas on a fantastic motocycle road over the Col du Portalet, across the Spanish border, heading down into the beautiful Alto Gallego valley, past a major ski area towards Sallent de Gallego, we were greeted with clear blue skies and warm temperatures.
When we arrived at the Hotel Almud, we discovered the bike had a dead battery. Sallent de Gallego is a large resort area with no support services for
cars or motorcycles, so we faced our first big challenge of the trip. Fortunately, were staying for two days and would have time to work out a possible solution.
Our second big challenge was the lack of a viable internet connection, so for the most part, except for our GPS tracker and Janet's iPhone for emailing, we were "off the grid."
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