Whilst staying in the high Pyrenean town of Benasque in late October; the weather took a turn for the worse. Watching the birds fly south under a leaden sky; I threw myself and the bike in the car and followed them. Whilst driving south, I wondered where I could ride in the sun; far from the north wind and the storm clouds that seem to hang round the mountain tops like a bad memory. Remembering a wide valley with a great expanse of water, that I had passed through on my way up from Barcelona; I checked the map and headed for the town of Tremp in Catalunya.
The back streets of Tremp
I parked outside a brilliant supermarket called Bon Preu; which meant I could buy more provisions after the ride as well as a celebratory drink!
Living in the Pyrenees or any remote region can be expensive if you cannot grow your own food; for the few supermarkets that you can find are restricted by high transport costs. So driving south to a larger town I made considerable savings on simple ingredients. As well as finding my favourite beer: the pale pilsner Moritz, from Barcelona!
So setting up my bike and deciding on how much clothing I needed; I set off on the back streets of Tremp to avoid the constant through traffic. Climbing a short hill past old factories; I past a peaceful viewpoint then descended into northern edges of Tremp. Being my first time on these streets and using a unclear copy of a map I made a few wrong turns. Yet trusting my sense of direction I had soon left Tremp behind. Taking care whilst crossing the Pallaresa river on a main road; I turned left at the far end of the bridge and picked up the brown cycling signs towards the village of Aramunt.
The winding road to Aramunt
After passing a few farm houses and saying ‘bon dia’ to a sheep dog; the road turned from asphalt to dust and climbed up through a small valley. After a short while I passed a quaint hunting lodge where I paused to bathe in the warm midday sun. It was late October now but here I was in just a cycling jersey. By driving just fifty miles out of the mountains; the temperature had climbed from near zero to twenty degrees Celsius.
Pushing on the great reservoir of Sant Antoni soon came into view. I had to keep stopping not to rest or drink but to take in all the vistas as the valley lit up in autumnal colours. The old road that was worn out in places; slowly wound its way along the hills above the lake. Not seeing another soul or little sign of civilisation for almost an hour I was truly relaxed. After a while the track improved as I arrived to the small village of Aramunt. From here I took a deserted road to reach the town of La Pobla de Segur.
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On the right track!
As I rolled into the outskirts of La Pobla de Segur; the quiet country lane joined a bigger road and cars and trucks appeared like icebergs from the mist. I could see the route on the satellite map; yet translating that to real life was difficult because of the tree cover. Taking my time to workout the route and patiently waiting for gaps in the traffic; I was soon back on the back lanes as before.
An avenue of poplar trees swaying by the river; led me to a bridleway that put me out of reach of all those automobiles. A well placed sign explained the route followed the shores of the reservoir almost back to Tremp; with helpful little signposts afterwards at every junction and corner. The gradients were gentle as the path followed the route of a railway that climbs all the way to Puigcerda! Views of the reservoir changed with every break in the tree line. I now faced the sun as I cycled south; with fields appearing a brighter shade of gold. My skin was warmed, my legs felt strong and my head clear from the mineral water. I was in motion yet truly relaxed.
The return to Tremp
Before too soon the traffic free signed path turned up into the hills towards the village of Salas de Pallars. So now I had to use a part of the main road to get back to Tremp. Although daunted at the fact of being so close to fast moving traffic; the shoulder was so wide, I was more than a metre from the carriageway at all times. This lasted for about two miles; so I pedalled hard to reduce my risks still further. In hindsight, if I had more time, more daylight; I would have climbed up into the hills and descended to Tremp via farm tracks.
Anyhow, I soon turned off the main road and followed a dirt single track through woods all the way back to the bridge at the start of the ride. Here, I retraced my route back to the car. That night, I sat back after enjoying a large dinner that I had bought in the the Bon Preu. Sipping a glass of Moritz and watching the fire jump and dance; I smiled to myself remembering my brilliant but relaxed day out.
Yet do not take my word for it; my photos do not tell the whole story; come, come and see for yourself and relax.
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