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Get to know the Pyrenees

Published on
10 June 2022

In the middle of May me and my friend (and important team member) Nikolas went to the Pyrenees to get to know these mountains a bit better.

The starting point was of course the beach in Hondarribia. The first part of the race has been the same in all editions and it was natural to discover this stage as the first part of our visit. It’s also the only part of the race where you have a mandatory stage, all the way from the beach up to La Rhune.

It’s almost half a marathon on tarmac before hiking up to La Rhune. I have a challenging knee issue (Runners knee) and this stage will be hard in that matter. Hard both physically and mentaly since you want to push on the first stage,  but it will be wise to hold back and run at a controlled pace with a load that avoids the knee to aggravate and be a struggle for the rest of the race. Anyway, from La Rhune the race really begins and it will be important to be fit for the next days to come.

After a day in the Hondarribia area we moved east. I squeezed in a flight with quite some northerly wind and very humid and unstable air masses. Challenging with humid northerly airflow on the French side of this mountain chain this close to the atlantic ocean.

Next day we moved further east to discover beautiful landscapes and mountains. All the famous Tour de France climbs are in this area. Also a nice area for Paragliding;)

It was a good day for flying, but instead of pushing many kms I was flushed down on a lee side in a big valley after just 24 km. I didn’t think the wind was that strong, and my decision was that the lee should be OK. It was not working at all! I was pushed down to the valley floor. I packed up, hiked up again, and found a suitable launch site. Once again I was flushed down, but managed to catch a windy thermal that drifted to the other side of the valley. Quite windy, and hard to make use of the thermals. But at the end of the valley it improved and I was able to cross westbound. It was almost 100% overcast and some overdevelopment/rain around, and the day was finished. Managed a 22 km flight. Not a good use of the day, but a very useful experience and knowledge of the area.

Next day came with a good forecast. I decided to fly from Col de la Courade in Campan and headed south east. The day was good, and flying was great with a great view. Some big air in the middle of the day, but no more than to be expected. Weak northerly airflow pushed me in the right direction, and I was able to cross over to Spain to Aneto, passing next to the highest peak in the Pyrenees.

Once in Spain the wind changed to southerly and headwind. Then I got stuck around El Corronco for a long time before I found a way  to continue eastbound. The flight continued until passing near Andorra when Nikolas called me and said it would be a smart move to land here since he had already booked a place to stay there. Not too many kilometers more left of the day, and it was a good call to land next to the hotel and have a good meal.

Last day we spent gift shopping for our kids (important to prioritize when we are away this much/often). In the afternoon we had a sweet local flight in the area of Pic del Moros. Nice!

In the evening we drove to Girona where we met up with Niviuk Gliders the next day. They were helping us with sponsor logos in the glider, trim check, and supplied me with some clothing and gadgets. Thanks!

A great stay in the Pyrenees, and very useful with regard to getting to know these mountains. Many thanks to Nikolas who was a dedicated driver,planner and organizer during the stay. It would not be possible to cover this much ground in a week without your help!

Next trip and adventure will be the race at the end of June 🙂 We look forward to exploring these mountains more!

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