Hendaye to Zarautz - Pau to Porto 2019 - CycleBlaze

July 8, 2019

Hendaye to Zarautz

The day began and ended with rain.

The bump in today’s elevation profile is our socked in and moody climb over Jaikzabel. I know that there are incredible views to be had, but we didn’t see them.
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The flash and boom show began around 4am.  There is nothing quite like feeling of being in a cozy sleeping bag and reliable tent when the weather turns.  The flashes of lightening illuminated the inside of the fly of the tent, and thunder roared and rolled off into the night sky.  What would make this moment even better would make a whole day of it; lounging in the tent, catching up on reading my brother’s book, and working on this blog.  All, of course, accompanied by good food.  But, the skies cleared by morning and we took advantage of the opportunity and moved on.

The old casino on the beachfront at Hendaye. A remnant of a bygone era.
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The weather cooperated enough this morning and allowed us to pack and actually ride today. Earlier this morning we weren’t so sure.
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Waiting patiently while Sue grabs pastries and coffees. Why not take a photo of my new bike?
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Hendaye is a beachside resort and an international destination for continental holiday goers.  The few days we spent in the Pyrenees, we were the anomaly and a bit of a curiosity to many.  People asked us where we were going and what we were doing, and we made our best attempts to speak French. Here, we are the norm among many other tourists, and everyone speaks English.  It’s nice to experience both worlds, but we really prefer the less travelled roads.

Stickered border sign welcoming us to Espagne
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After negotiating some busy roads, we crossed the bridge over the Bidasoa River which separates Spain from France, and headed to our only substantial climb of the day.  Jaikzabel.  

A look east towards Hendaye as we gain elevation.
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We had to get a photo of this. Check out the snail, indicating to drivers to slow down and give 1.5 meters to cyclists. Love it.
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Mike AylingYes,love the snail!

Mike
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3 months ago

The hermitage of Guadeloupe below.

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We took a break from our climb and stopped for our breakfast at the Hermitage of Guadalupe; a  beautiful Catholic Church that we saw from way down in Hendaye.  It was there that we met the talkative, enthusiastic and entertaining Alex from Puglia, Italy.  Thanks to Scott and Rachel Anderson’s recent journal to southern Italy, I was a little familiar with that part of the world.  He was also on a bike tour with his girlfriend and he was waiting for her to catch up, so he sauntered over for a chat.  He went on to tell us how terribly out of shape she was and that they only are doing 30 to 40 kms per day.  I replied, “ that’s okay:”, and he waved his hand towards me and muttered a short “baaa”.  We could tell that  he loved bikes and has completed many tours, and we also assumed that from the way he spoke about his cycling partner that most of his previous tours must have been solo.  We really enjoyed talking to him. As we were about to push off, he came over again for another 5 minute chat. And, with that, we said our bon voyages and moved on up the mountain.

Horses in the mist.
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This climb was solid, but ran at a steady and very manageable grade of around 5-7%, much easier than our previous days in the Pyrenees; as well as much shorter.  It’s just too bad we didn’t get the views north to the Bay of Biscay. 

My hope when we get to San Sebastián is to get my spoke issue sorted.

Zipping up for the drizzly descent.
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This was the clearest it was all day on route. Sue descending and escaping the clouds towards San Sebastián. Higher up, the clouds were so thick, the visibility was down to about 10 meters. We took our bright jackets and lights out for this one.
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We cycled through a neighbourhood of San Sebastián full of political and Basque Independence graffiti .
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The following photos are of our time in San Sebastian.  I would love to write and tell you all about the rest of our day, but our bellies are grumbling and we must eat.  I will update this day later and provide updates about my spoke issue, how we tried to escape San Sebastián, and how we arrived at Zarautz.

Beautiful beaches at San Sebastián.
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Okay.  I’m back to update the blog.  It’s 5:30 am the next day and it’s still raining.  Last night, the rain really came down hard.  Like torrentially so.  We stayed in our tent until the rain hitting the fly became a slight pitter patter, and made our way to the campground restaurant.  Sue had a pasta, and I some delicious pork, eggs and roasted red pepper dish.  Not bad at all.

Putting the rain gear away and looking out towards the Bahia de la Concha, San Sebastián.
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San Sebastián.
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A look the other way.
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We were both disappointed that we did not get to spend more time exploring this beautiful city. I spent most of my time seeking a bike shop to deal with my broken spoke (a rear one, needing my back cassette to come off and a more challenging fix that what my meager tools could do). Sue had to park herself at a cafe, as I cycled around looking for a shop.  To make a long story short, I was not successful.  I went to four shops.  One was a bike rental place, that gave me a spoke, but could not do the job.  The next shop went out of business. The third was closed for holidays.  And, the fourth could not get the job done until the next day.

So,  me and my wobble will keep on truckin’ down the road until we hit another town with a shop.  The two hour scavenger hunt took a big chunk of time, so we departed San Sebastián a little later than expected. 

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Leaving San Sebastián on bicycles was a nightmare.  S.S. is a big city with big roads exiting and entering it.  As all seasoned tourers know, exiting and leaving large cities can be some of the most challenging cycling you can do.  Even with my GPS, trying to get out of SS safely and avoiding busy roads was somehow a problem for us today.  That, and not having enough food contrbuted to ‘the bonk’.  You know.  The feeling of confusion, and crankiness when all you haven’t eaten enough?

So, we made progress in the right direction, but the road we cycled along to get out of town was busy in both directions and had no shoulder.  When cars had to go around us, it also meant they had to go into oncoming traffic.  We had enough of that.

We pulled off, and Sue offered me a plum.  Yes.  One of her many tree fruit finds.  This time, we took out the IPAD for a larger view of the area on google maps and discovered there was a train station 300m away.   And, the trains running  were on the same line we were headed.  Done.

We hopped on the train for two stops, which took us out of the grips of the city and we ended up in the quiet beachside town of Zarautz.  Phew.

We are both looking forward to the next day of cycling.  This next stretch of road from here to Bilbao looks to be stunning.  Stay tuned.

Our campground for the night in Zarautz. Another campground with great ocean views.
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The editor.
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Today's ride: 60 km (37 miles)
Total: 309 km (192 miles)

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Dennis MulliganBoy you are doing well! At my best I could not have kept up with you two. Dennis
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3 months ago
Patrick O'HaraHi Dennis. Thanks. We’re having a great time. Looking forward to today’s route along the coast. We just hope this rain stops. Patrick and Susanna.
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3 months ago