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Boundary curvesPYRENEES


Boundary curves

Article published in Motociclismo magazine in 2005.

Imagine mountain roads, beautiful, very beautiful, with little traffic, often panoramic and with a terrific asphalt. The Pyrenees offer all this and probably also low prices, the possibility of shopping in the mini state of Andorra and a cordiality that, especially on the Spanish side, reminds us of the true meaning of the Latin people.

Read the story published in the magazine.

Perpignan sees on a hot afternoon in late June a motorcyclist on his Varadero wasting a couple of hours in search of an accommodation that is cheap enough to allow him to unleash his culinary passions in the evening on a stratospheric amount of seafood in one of the most typical restaurants of the city within its historic center, naturally mentioned in the information box.

We are in France, near the border, but the appearance of the architecture is of clear Catalan origins, having belonged to the kingdom of Aragon until 1642 and this convinces me to place it as a starting point for this itinerary.

The Pyrenees, more often than not, are ignored by the tourist flow that heads towards the Iberian Peninsula, attracted by the sun of La Mancha, by the torrid Andalusia, or by the highly advertised destinations of the Costa del Sol, the Costa Brava, not to mention its archipelagos. and its beautiful international cities.

And the Pyrenees? Yes, okay, it is the natural border between France and Spain that stretches between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean. But then?

Meanwhile, let's start by saying that for the spectacular views and quality of its roads, it has little to envy even the most popular Alps. The possibilities for creating itineraries are almost infinite, so consider these few lines as an incentive to stimulate your curiosity, even if the undersigned already has a couple of other shipments in mind over there.

Another thing not to be underestimated is the lack of traffic, which in most cases allows for safe and relaxed driving.

Once I enter Spain, I decide to start complicating the itinerary with the usual detours of a drunk but still curious tourist, by entering the various places that I discover in guides and from meetings with locals.

Once in Ripoll I bend northwards along the splendid N 152, but once in Puigcerda I pull the classic rabbit out of the hat by inserting an inexplicable detour that takes me back to France to arrive from the north at the entrance to the Andorra valley .

More than 100 kilometers to cross the small Spanish enclave in the French land of Llìvia, and travel a lonely road.

In the evening I will stop in the small town of Canillo a few kilometers from Andorra la Vella.

The landscape is incredible, literally squeezed between the French and Spanish mountains but with a slightly above normal urbanization.

According to legend, the Principality of Andorra was founded by Charlemagne in gratitude for the military aid provided and became independent in 819. The principality is made up of 7 parishes (parroquias).

The next day the city will be crossed quickly. The road to get there is quite spectacular but undoubtedly if you have no financial interests and do not want to take advantage of the tax breaks to shop, this is certainly not the most popular destination in the Pyrenees. Despite its reputation as a fiscal island, I will note that as far as tire dealers are concerned, the repair prices are more or less in line with European and Italian ones: € 5 for a mushroom in the rear cover of my bike and that it will barely hold until I return to home!!

But the journey continues.

The next destination is the Aran Valley, but once you leave the N145 for the N260, the road with its breathtaking views is the absolute star of the day.

I will lose, if you can say so, an infinite amount of time by stopping repeatedly to take pictures or simply in contemplation: the view sweeps across an immense valley.

The numbers of the roads follow one another, but the quality does not change, on the contrary, the C113 climbing up to over 2000m of the Port de la Bonaigua peremptorily obliges repeated stops in front of a truly spectacular panorama.

I will also pass through here on my return!

This is the gateway to the small Aran Valley. In addition to the beauty of the places, its main feature undoubtedly lies in the fact that it remained isolated until the opening of the road in 1925, allowing it to maintain and preserve its language and culture despite having belonged to Catalonia since 1389.

In fact, the language (Aranes, related to the French Gascon), institutions and traditions, which its inhabitants strenuously defend, remain in the Arno area.

Remained isolated for a long time, they do not skimp on hospitality and courtesy as I will happen to personally experience in the small town of Arties. A really nice place.

The next day is the one destined for the hills that made the Tour de France famous in these mountains. The succession is exciting: with du Portillon, with de Peyressurde, with D’Aspin, with du Tourmalet, with d’AubisqueEaux-Bonnes.

The first 2 are pure motorbike lust, then ...

Col du Tourmalet is probably the most famous of the entire itinerary, but as usual I arrive at the start of the climb, sorry but here a cycling jargon is practically a must, with a time that really promises nothing good. Low clouds in which I will slip practically after not even a couple of kilometers: practically zero visibility, I will drive by groping along the center line, until the road flattens out in a splendid valley that runs along its left side!

At least now I see something and things improve on the other side when the descent begins. The narrow road is dangerously clinging to the ridge, white, immense clouds cover the mountains, the sky is very blue, but the wind begins to be felt.

I finally enjoy the view, the wind picks up. Arriving at a hairpin bend, I walk along it and see that the road ahead goes around a rocky spur, a kind of rock springboard where a kind of small refuge is placed.

"What a road!" I think noticing that right on the crest of the rock there is a small tree, the only one, but there would be no room for others, it seems that the foliage is being redone helped by a giant hairdryer.

I don't pay much attention to this detail, attracted by the road that winds up steeply around what looks like a rock beak. But as I arrive at its tip, the hair dryer, it is somewhere but I do not see it, it tries to make beard and hair and perhaps something more to myself too.

I remain planted, motionless with these gusts trying to knock me to the ground. And the bike is certainly not among the lightest in the category and with lots of luggage, too. Trying to leave is not mentioned, the roadside is too close. I will try 4 or 5 times each time the gusts decrease, to get out of this unfortunate situation but with wrong synchronisms. Eventually I will get off the bike and stand in the middle of the road holding the handlebars of the bike for several minutes. Then suddenly, everything will cease, to be able to give myself the opportunity to get back on the vehicle and descend to the valley fairly quickly.

The place is fantastic, a couple of kilometers and things return to perfect normalcy: a beautiful sun will accompany me until the end of the itinerary, this time at the height of the Spanish border, also crossing the Col d'Aubisque.

Goodbye Pyrenees.

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