Wednesday 31 August 2016


Still in Genos . Another climb a D the a visit to the spa today . Full post to follow.

Tuesday: Col De Azet

It had rained in the night but this has stopped before breakfast however low cloud look like it would spoil today's ride. After breakfast we cycled the short distance round the Lake to Louderville to visit the supermarket. Our best French was practised when we rode past our accommodation owners uncle and wife. By 11:30 the low cloud had started to clear and after an early lunch we were off.

The climbs 7.4 km at an average gradient of 8.3 %. We slowly climbed above the village with breaks in the trees providing the occasion view of the village and lake below. The best photo opportunity was just before the road splits for the ski station a couple of km from the top. We did not stop intending to take pictures on the descent. After a little unlady like language we were finally inside the last km and improvised markings on the road counted down the final few hundred metres to the top. The summit was reached after about an hour of climbing.

Rather than descend back to Genos we changed our plan and instead descended towards Sa Lary Soulan .

We turned off just before the valley bottom onto the D25 a minor road that hugged the valley side. The continuation to Grecian provided an unexpected climb much to Lyn's displeasure. The alternative route would have stayed on the valley bottom. We continued the ascent to Lancon and after a
short break started the rapid descent to Borderes Louron.


We then had the final 6 miles along the main road back to Genos. The first few miles were mostly downhill but the turn off to Genos provided some unwelcome undulations. We arrived back just after 6:00pm a round trip of 25 miles with lots of ascent.

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Monday: The rain in Spain (well France)

Breakfast in Hotel Food Rios was acceptable but average. We had been spoilt for the previous 2 nights. One of the reasons for choosing to stay in Ainsa was to cycle upto the Lac De Cap Long about an hour's drive away on the French side of the boarder. I had planned to do the climb on our last trip to the Pyrenees 2 years ago and we were thwarted by the weather. This year turned out to be the same with a high probability of heavy rain all afternoon we changed our plans and decided to do a ride front Ainsa instead where it was not due to start raining according to the forecast until 2:00pm. 1 euro was invested in a VTT cycle guide from the tourist information and having applied sunscreen we checked out of the hotel just after 11:00 am to set off cycling in light rain. The rain stopped a few minutes later and stayed away until until our drive to Genos.

It was like a treasure hunt spotting the route marking but we made it out of town on a minor road and after a couple of miles turned off onto a dry river bed. We cycled for a few hundred yards but really needed mountain bikes to make any serious progress.

We retraced out steps and followed the road instead and slowly climbed above the valley. We followed a couple of signpost places but these turned out to farms a dead ends. A few mountain bike paths were signed off the route but were not included in the guide I purchased.

Having run out of road we returned to town to try another route. This time we were more successful with the off road sections not requiring a mountain bike to cycle.

The route was meant to be suitable for families but after a section following the river and then looping back to town but were soon steeply climbing upto a couple of small villages and then descending on a gravel track past a small quarry.

Ainsa Old town.

We arrived back at the car just after 4:00pm. Robert sorted out the bikes whilst Lyn ordered a late lunch from the hotel. It turned out the kitchen was closed but the waiter offered to make us a sandwich.
I was a 1:40 minute drive to Genos. We had some heavy rain as we approached the Bielsa tunnel and we emerged the other side into low cloud. We arrived at Genos at 6:30pm, 30 minutes ahead of our estimated latest arrival time. It turn out that the GPS coordinates and map of how to get the the accommodation were wrong. Finding the right house was not helped by the fact that none of the roads in the small village had any Street names displayed and the 2 locals we asked did not know where it was. Kate and Google maps only displayedWe the names of the main rosds.We eventually drove past the right house having checked the pictures on the website. We were meant by the owners uncle who lives next door. The accommodation is splendid had has been renovated to a high standard. We have full cooking facilities and also a dishwasher and washing machine. Our bikes are safely stored in the uncles adjoining "garage". We eat in the apartment and the Supermarket Rioja was better than some we had sampled.

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Tuesday 30 August 2016

Now on Genos

Full post to follow.

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Sunday 28 August 2016

Sunday: Rioja tasting and a drive to Ainsa

Another good evening meal in the restaurant was followed by and excellent breakfast. Full post to follow. Now in Ainsa. We arrived at around 6:30 after a 4 hour drive including a couple of stops.

The day in pictures below.

Bodegas Puelles


Marques De Riscal

Sampling more Rioja

A dip in the pool still hot at 7:00pm

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Saturday 27 August 2016

Via Verde Del Oja

Dinner in the hotel yesterday evening was excellent. Three courses for 26 euros excluding wine. A marked contrast in quality to the 12 euro menu of the previous 2 nights.

The day started with a late breakfast which was served from 9:00. Again excellent quality. We were presented with a plate of fried eggs, cheese and cured ham with a side plate with small cakes and croissants. Then a plate of cut up fresh fruit and natural yoghurt. Finally a large tortilla was placed on the side.
board. If we wanted anything else we just had to ask!

The start of the bike ride was a 30 minute drive away. We started in the small village of Castanares De Rioja and followed the via Verde for 22km to Ezcaray. The first mile was a rough stone track alongside the road. The path then moved away from the road and the surface changed to a tarmac surface for the rest of the way. The gentle climb and constant headwind slowed the pace. The scenery only started to change as we got closer to Ezcaray . The fields field s were growing a mixture of vines, vegetables crops and wheat. A cafe in the town provided a late lunch. Although we ordered 2 courses only one arrived.

The tomatos and tuna salad was good but when we got the bill it turned out to be very expensive.

The return to the car was a lot faster. A coffee in the small bar excellent value at 1.20 euros.

We then drove to Haro and selected a bodega for a tasting, Lopez De Heredia
A tasting glass was 2.1 euros but we were allowed two small samples for the price.

The cheaper Rioja was 12 euros a bottle and the most expensive 23 euros. We enjoyed the samples but decided not to buy some wine.

We arrived back at the hotel in time to book in for dinner and catch up on the blog / holiday diary.

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Friday 26 August 2016

Friday 26. La Via del Plazaola

We made a better choice from the 12 euro menu last evening, salad and fish being safer options.

We started the day with an earlier alarm than usual. By 8:00am the majority of the packing had been carried to the car and we were having breakfast. We had checked out and were on our way to Andoain a 50 minute drive away by 9:30. Kate directed us to the town centre and local signs then provided direction to the park near the start of the bike ride.

We were into our first tunnel before 10:45. The path is around 50 km in length but we on cycled the first 25 km to Leitza. The whole route includes 41 tunnels and we have in counting the number we went though.

The route followed the route of the old railway line and slowly climbed up the Leitzaran valley, the first few km were on on concrete or tarmac but the majority of the path was compacted stone. Most of the tunnels were lit but lights were required for a couple of the longer tunnels.
You should not get lost following an old railway line but signpost along a section of road when the path looked like it continued straight on caused some dought. We followed the road and later checked with google maps and by stopping and asking a friendly Spain couple . Leitza after about 25 km of cycling was a short descent from the route and offered the only chance to get refreshments.

After lunch once we climbed back to the path apart from one short ascend it was downhill all the way to the car.

It was faster to returned but Lyn found the track a little rough for such s long section.

We were back at the car by 16:45 ready for the 2 hour drive to Abalos a small village in the Rioja region. We have checked in an our looking forward to our evening meal. Time for a shower.

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Thursday 25 August 2016

Wednesday 24th

Getting behind with my posts. Now in Spain
Today in brief. The last section of the Roger Lapebie cycle path to Bordeaux. A visit to a vineyard, a late lunch and a 2:30 drive to Spain. The temperature dropped 10 degrees just before the border but its still 26 degrees centigrade. Full post to follow.

The last section of the cycle path was a gradual descent to the river. The route followed the old railway line to just before the river and then followed the bank of Garonne on many minor roads to the centre of Bordeaux. We continued to one of the main bridges before retracing our steps. A Brexton coffee was drunk on bench by the car. We selected the nearest Bordeaux wine producer from the leaflet we had picked up at the B+B, put the address into Kate and set off. Chateaux Anniche turned out to be an excellent choice. We had comprehensive guided tour in English from the wife of the owner who was born in Liverpool. ( she had lost her Scouse accent ). Amongst the many interesting facts was the strain of yeast used to ferment the wine is selected to reflect that years growing conditions and the characteristic of wine you are trying to produce. Wine purchased and safely stored and it was then off to Spain stopping briefly for a late lunch. Once we reached the motorway only short sections were tolled. Our supply of loose change was used up before we had to resort to a note and Lyn had to hang out of the passenger window to retrieve the change!

Kate took us straight to the hotel it's just off the main road but I had booked a room at the back with a "mountain view" so we are unaffected by road noise.

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Via Verde del Bidasoa

We arrived at hotel Vents Etxalar just before 8:00 pm last night.

We booked a table in the restaurant to eat and opted for the12 euro menu that included a bottle of wine between us and water. The dishes were filling but not the best quality. My starter was boiled rice with a fried egg on top surrounded by a tomato sauce!

The buffet breakfast this morning was an improvement. Lots of choice , plenty of sweet options but also fresh fruit and decent baguettes and homemade tortilla's.

The ride on the Via Verde follows the course of the old railway. The path runs by the river across from the hotel but to get to it we had to cycle for a mile along the old main road.

The track was a mixture of concrete. tarmac and stone sections. It also included a couple of tunnels. Lights were required for one as as section of the internal lights has failed.

We went a short distance beyond the town of Legasa before turning round
and finding a baker's in the town for lunch. The ride back was mainly down hill slowed by more frequent photo stops. We past the bridge where we joined the track and continued for another 5 miles to Bera. The increased heat had reduced the number of cyclists and walkers. A bar in the town insured we were well hydrated for the 5 mile up hill return to the hotel.

We have booked in at the restaurant again but will be trying a different starter.

The wine was drinkable.

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Wednesday 24 August 2016

Wednesday 24th

Getting behind with my posts. Now in Spain
Today in brief. The last section of the Roger Lapebie cycle path to Bordeaux. A visit to a vineyard, a late lunch and a 2:30 drive to Spain. The temperature dropped 10 degrees just before the border but its still 26 degrees centigrade. Full post to follow.

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