They said that the first leg of El Camino would be the toughest. It was unbelievably difficult. Brutal at best.
In all of my cycling, I have never had a tougher 15 miles. For those of you that don’t know, I have done the Seattle to Portland and the Seattle to Vancouver two day rides. I retraced the 3600 mile Lewis & Clark Trail on a bike.
And I have been training for this. While in New York City in the last few weeks I cycled from lower Manhattan out to Coney Island and back. Ditto Staten Island and ditto Far Rockaway (a 6 hour round trip). Went to a NY Yankees game in the Bronx by bike. Of the 40,000+ fans in attendance, only one came by bike!
But none of the experience and training helped in crossing the Pyrenees.
It took me 8 hours to do 15 miles. That is less than 2 miles an hour. I usually assume 10 miles an hour counting stops.
What made it so tough?
The terrain. You are climbing non stop for 7+ hours before you desend. The elevation gain is 1450 meters, which is about 9/10th of a mile.
The road or trail. As you can see from the pictures the path left a little to be desired at times.
The elements. Rain on and off all day. In the clouds the entire day unfortunately. And a little cool. I came so unprepared for this, thinking it was going to be hot, hot, hot.
The weight of the bike from the gear that I am carrying. I have no idea how heavy it is, but, I can assure you that it is not light!
You put all of these factors together and you have an “im”perfect storm.
It was so difficult that I would guess that I had to walk (I.e., push) my bike at least half the time.
It was hell.
Having said that, I made it!