From Saint Jean de Luz to San Sebastian (2018-09-04)

HowTo cycle 19 hills along the Atlantic Ocean.

It was a rather short stay in Saint Jean de Luz due to the closing of the camping and the upcoming bad weather. But today I would reach San Sebastian ! And as you might know that is the town that I more or less randomly have choosen to cycle to.

There is a dutch saying : "There must be something to bother you anyway !". In the spring of 2018 I saw a documentary at TV5 about that region. And simply decided to travel in that direction. About 10 weeks after the start of my YesTrip in Montpellier I was about to check that first milestone. Today !!!

I left the camping by taking the main road then I knew I would not manage that coastal road riding with the packed bike. Then when I was in Saint Jean de Luz at sunday I had seen that the coastal road behind the harbour was very steep also. And it was not allowed to cycle the main road from the bridge on so I had to cycle locally anyway. I therefore had created a detour in my gps through the residential area to avoid that particular hill. Was I wrong haha. For some bad reason I had not checked the height profile of that residential detour in the laptop. And It Was Steep and Long. Luckily, while resting for the 3th time, I was encouraged by two women : "Bon courage, you are already about halfway to the top". That helped ! I don't know if they really helped me haha ? But anyway, just shortly before the top (what I wasn't aware of ofcourse) there was Viagra waiting to help me ! The recipe sad : "One tablet per every kilometer" so I took all tablets. I reached the top soon and decended. To find out that I for sure had made a detour. Then the road turned into the direction of the bay, and I ended up at sealevel, loosing all the height I had pushed for. But there also was an advantage then I had this last beautiful view at the bay of Saint Jean de Luz. Once outside Saint Jean de Luz I was on a main road and that road was Hilly. There are no smaller roads over here and I guess that is because of the landscape. The road was rather busy then it is leading directly to and from Spain.

I was on my way to french Hendaye were I would cross the bridge over the Rio Bidasoa to enter spanish Irun at the other side. So today I would enter my second country of the YesTrip !

I was a bit disappointed when I noticed there were no signs at all to welcome me in Spain haha. All I noticed was that suddenly I could not understand any text anymore. Then spanish is abracadabra for me, whether spoken or written. That's how I knew I was "somewhere else". I continued and enjoyed the view and the ride. And reached urban area again. From the bridge in Hendaye I decended steeply to the bay and that was a pretty spot and view. I rested a while at the harbour and ate the remaining bread that was left over from the boulangerie in Saint Jean de Luz. I cycled on through a parc were the children were playing and having lots of fun. Just at the grass near the WW1 and WW2 monument. That's Why. Being a frontier area there are always many extra activities, regardless of the EU. Since trains cannot cross the Pyrenees they cross the border here. I stopped at the first cafe in Spain. Then I had planned to eat my first tortilla. With which I got a cup of Negro coffee. Nobody complaint, and I was not arrested for racisme haha. The coffee was oké but the tortilla was tasteless. A bad sign ?! No it is Not ! Salt is a bad ingredient for your health so it is better to have something "tasteless" and then add a little (!) salt yourself. I "read" my first spanish newspaper and Did Not Understand A Word Of It haha. But there was a french one too. It had the message that several bullfighters were hurt and in the hospital. I don't like torturing animals so I was oké with that. There was no info about the bulls. What the papers and meteo websites still announced was the oncoming bad weather. It would rain heavily for some 4 to 10 days ... Depending on the day you looked at. That info was steady for several days already so that was bad news. But getting optimistic again was easy. I just had to look out of the window of the café at this piece of art at the wall of the railway station. It makes me think about sailing. Sailing at some boat ? Sailing with the wind ? Sailing against the wind ? Sailing with your life ?

I went on and stopped at an unmand petrolstation. It was full with east european truckdrivers. There was a small hall with some tables and there they were cooking their meals. Cold softdrinks from a machine were only € 1,- and I could not resist to compensate the calories lost haha. However I always choose the types of lemonade with citron or lemon then they have little "kilos" in them. And off I went again, down and up, and up and down ... I cycled through Errenteria which is a sea oriented town. And then I was at the first outscurt of San Sebastian !!! I stopped at the first café and could understand a little bit of the menu of the day, too bad I wasn't hungry ... The coffee was very good, so I took another one. Then I continued, to find out that the road started rising again. But at (exactly) 16h05 I crossed the Rio Urumea at the Puente de Maria Cristina. Which was precisely according my calculations of some months before haha. And 10 minutes later I was in the centre at the Good Shepherd Cathedral of San Sebastian.

I had reached the first milestone I had planned to do at my YesTrip. And was on the bicycle some 711 kms to achieve that. Which is not really though then I took off at the 22nd of june in Montpellier and arrived in San Sebastian the 4th of septembre.

Which makes some 10 kms per day average haha. Which2 is an average not taking into account taking pictures. This way of traveling suits me well. I don't have to hurry, so why should I ?! I love Seeing it All, so I do so.

But again, today "het venijn zat in de staart" (google that !). I decided to continue to the campsite since I would have enough time to visit San Sebastian a next day. Maybe I would make a visit even twice.

I had to really climb out of the town. There was a temporary traffic light since there was some construction work next to the road. I arrived there and was the first one in the line to wait for the light.

The pedestrian pavement was far to small so I had to stay at the road. Then the light turned green and I started pushing. Nobody could pass me, the road was also to small plus the first vehicule behind me turned out to be a big bus. That bus had no choice either but to keep calm and the driver did so.

It took me at least 10 minutes of pushing to reach a wider spot were the other traffic could pass me. I for sure have created the biggest traffic jam in my life here. But nobody complaint, nobody used their claxon, nobody blamed me, nobody used a middlefinger to me (nor thumb haha) ... What a great experience it was, the Spanish people I mean !!!

But I had to push some 30 minutes more to reach that top. Then I "fell down" and the streets became a little bit more "flat". I had to cycle through a 4 lane high speed tunnel (without shoulder) and didn't feel to safe. Finally I was out of the urban area.

And had to climb a pass at that same highspeed highway which I managed cycling (with only 1 rest). I then knew already that my plan to visit the centre by bicycle would be a problem because of the hills.

I cycled out of the urban area and then reached the sign of the camping, turned left and was at a small road in a forest. These were the last 3 kms but again I had to push some parts of it. I even had to push 50 meters at the camping to get from the barrier to the reception. It was so steep that even some cars had their wheels spinning to restart at the barrier.

The camping is situated deep and low in a valley and is surrounded by hills and mountains. Which means little sun, little grass and lots of moisture and mud. And no way to do any shopping. Plus lots of rain coming up.

All in all, signs were not to good. Happily the restaurant was. But how to visit San Sebastian ?!

But I Was There, I have made it ! Today I cycled only 50 kms. But although the maximum height was just 87 meters I made 642 vertical meters. While I climbed about 19 hills ... That is why I managed only a mere 10,7 kmh average in 4 and a half hours netto. The combination of these figures is rather extreme ...

Click at the panorama pictures to open them as a poster :

View at the harbour of Hendaye.

And one more.

I am excited to have reached San Sebastian ! In the next blog I will tell you all about my stay there.

Enjoy your day, buen dia !


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