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Blog 204 Olite Erriberri to Bordeaux

8th May


Early hours on the mountain pass out of Pamplona, raining hard, stiff headwind all the previous day, tired, feeling dark, a gloom has settled over me and I don’t know why; is it road annoyance, a family sleight, or is it just me. Entering the 9th month on the road with just 6 rest days has not always been easy but when I think of hardships I don’t think this journey has presented me with any. Hardships are comparative and I eat and sleep well but you can’t always escape feeling exhausted whatever you do. I have ridden across cute back country roads - bliss away from the traffic - I have stopped for a coffee in cafe's where tourists never go and I love every moment I am not pulverised by the sound of cars and trucks brushing past me, soaked by rain, overheated by the sun and rattled and shaken by all the bumps in the road.


I ride and I ride. Out of Pamplona I research a hotel up the mountain in the woods on the way to France. It's now dark and raining hard and when I arrive, my batteries depleted it is closed without warning. I have to find shelter from the rain, a verandah maybe, a bit of carpet somewhere. I look around and find a basement room with an electrical socket. Perfect. I plug in and wrap myself in my bicycle bag and sleep on the concrete. So tired I sleep instantly. On waking at 4am, having been in a curled up position my legs cramp up badly and I am in silent agony. In the dark on the floor the cramp racks my body until finally I can stand and rub my legs desperately. I quickly pack and leave in a good way as I found it, close the door and ride. 


I step into the cloud mist and continue to cross the lower Pyrenees. Trucks pass me in the tunnels and I lean into the wall as if I were paint. Some see me some don’t. Once I just closed my eyes and hoped. I ride on and fast downhill and somehow miss the warnings and at 45mph ride into a gravel trap that catches trucks when they lose their brakes. They work for bicycles too and I stop within 6ft and narrowly miss being thrown as if bucked from a horse. Think nothing of it, immune to this as a trifle. When you have been close to death a thousand times a day, when trucks brush alongside me, their vortex sucking the bike ever closer to wheels as high as my shoulders not being killed becomes one of my dynamics throughout each day.


Portrait of a Bike


Soon the rain stops and it is dawn. The birds start to sing and at the bottom of the Pyrenees at the last village in Spain I find a bakery just opened serving fresh pastries hot from the oven. There is nothing wrong with my simple world. Except that the mist laced songs lacked a crisp trill but instead filled the valley sweetly, pursing through the tops of trees mixed with cloud and the sounds of such little birds hung like you might smell a colour. The big horses stood stately, muscle rippling their skin but otherwise motionless and steaming. Everything was silent. If there was a song other than from a bird it was my heart beating. The self harm in my head happens by not stopping more to breathe and to take in what I see, cursed never to be content with where I am.


Come sunrise and like the horses it seems the whole world changes when a mist descends and my head is blinded having slept just six hours these past two days. A day can start sunny backed by a pearly blue skeet of sky and warm too but by Bayonne clouds form a matt grey speckle of grubby grey until I get to the French village of Saubusse.


Le Marie, Saubusse


There is more. So much more, It will have to wait.


Map of the Day


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Steve Turner
Steve Turner
4 days ago
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Incredible Nick!! 185 mile day! Crikey, that's some day, amazing! Stamina must be your middle name....take care!


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Roger
Roger
4 days ago
Replying to

He's either got 4 extra batteries out of shot in his photos, or, is secretly sponsored by red bull, or, (which is more likely), the leg power of a 25 year old version of himself 😂

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Guest
5 days ago
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Hi Nick

When I see your achievement, I am humbled by the physical effort you put in as well as the much greater mental strain.

The feeling of not surviving the next lorry and waiting for it to hit you or constantly experiencing a narrow escape - that's something you have to endure first and foremost.

I wish you a really accident-free journey on the remaining miles and admire how you get through it.

See you at the Touratech event in Niedereschach, Germany. I was pleased to see that you will be there

Best regards

Harald

Germany

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Guest
5 days ago
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Well done Nick the end is nearly in site. Been a fantastic achievement like all your others in life. See you Mach, best wishes Jeremy

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