Day 13. Slow and steady… (Friday 10th October)

Today Total
Distance 45 miles 886 miles (1426km)
Height gain 940 metres 11576 metres (37979ft)
Calories 1600 33400

I had an interesting start to the day, I put the “do not disturb” sign on the door but the maid completely ignored it and walked in just as I was getting out of the shower. She seemed quite shocked as if it was my fault! She didn’t even apologise.

Anyway, before setting off I had two simple options today, one was to push for the border, enter Andorra and complete the challenge, the other was simply not to! But as soon as I set off I kind of got my answer, I’d lost my first gear completely, the pedal just span around. I had no idea what had changed as it crunched and slipped but now it wasn’t gripping at all. I’d have to see how difficult it would be with just a slipping 2nd gear. Not surprisingly it was difficult and one massive hill just before Ax-les-Thermes did me in completely.

I sat down, ate a late lunch and pondered what to do as I was still 35 to 40 miles away from the border and still has a climb of about 1900 meters. I had a quick fiddle with the gears and found to my surprise that one of the bolts holding the back wheel on had completely come loose. I have no idea how this could have happened as the bolt could not work loose as I’d locked the nut so it was a little strange, it was as if the axle had stretched. I could have lost the wheel at any time. Quickly tightening the wheel and fiddling with the gears made it possible to find 1st again, although still hit and miss! Within no time, with the newly found first gear, I picked up the pace until a huge rain storm hit at Merens-les-Vals. I took shelter in the village’s train waiting shelter…. but as the rain started to slow and eventually stop it was getting dark and with the height at 1000 metres above sea level it was pretty cold. So at just 45 miles cycled today it looks like this is my bed for the night! I’ve had worse…

It may be a bench, but it\’s a fantastic view.

For more detail on route click HERE.

(© google maps)