Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland - Spring '16

Spring 2016. Yes, still on holiday. Oops wink

Quite enjoying the Costa Blanca (can certainly recommend this as a winter cycling destination) but as the weather warms it's time to head back North.

Trip to Germany for the snail's safety inspection - can you believe it's a year already?! Which leads to the obligatory stop with friends both there and in Switzerland. Passing through an as yet unexplored part of the Black Forest & home via the Giant of Provence. Lovely stuff.

We really love the Pyrenees though so this is where the majority of our time will be spent this year I think. Ahem And why not - a dream come true to ride the Tourmalet through walls of snow above one's head is just one of the benefits!

14:54

Delta de l'Ebre. Quite time of year, but couple OK-ish bird in flight shots. Ducks, Flamingos, that kind of thing wink

18:03

Evening stroll. Is cloudy but warm. No sand, but on the plus side, won't be find it in every orifice for hours! wink

14:25

Shots from today's ride. Lovely roads but a bit arid around here. Higher you go, greener it gets though. Oh well! wink

14:00

Beach front at Villajoyosa. This one's sandy: note the palms wink Can't say it's not colourful enough & rather like it!

14:35

Is tricky to find a good curry in Europe so just this once happy to enjoy some 'Brits Abroad' dining wink tongue Cheers! grin

15:48

Feeling very lucky... this was on the table 5 minutes after I got home from cycling! Yum! smile grin tongue #Refuel #Hydration

13:01

Today's ride: Deserted Costa Blanca roads. Surprisingly good riding here & it's almost hot! #TanLines #FullyPro wink

13:55

More fun in the Costa Blanca hills today. Around 90km with 1800m of vertical. Lovely & warm too. Niiiiice smile grin

13:06

Today's ride: Same route as last time, reversed. In 3½ hours riding only 34 sec difference - faster! smile #Consistency

13:58

Lunch in Villajoyosa. 12€ menu included a 'small' glass of sangria. This & my entrée the highlights. Yum! tongue smile

10:28

Spanish supermarket: Jamón a serious business here! There's a guy hand slicing it for your tasting pleasure too smile

10:29

Not all jamón here is cheap. This 440€ leg most expensive I could find. 49/kg? Anyone in Sydney want to comment? wink

09:06

Passed lots of orange groves yesterday. Paid 7 bucks for a bag of lovely, juicy fruit as big as Pratiwi wink Bargain grin

11:53

Ride from the Med coast up brutal climb (20%+ ramps), past vineyards, a castle & lakes. You know, the usual stuff wink

13:20

Old town of Sitges: narrow alleys and... erm... interesting shopfront props wink

13:30

Great tapas bar in Sitges. Fresh kebabs, sausages, etc. came round regularly. Yum! tongue Sangria seems effective too! wink

14:17

Outside bar in Spain. Cold day: I'm wearing sweater & Goretex shell. 3 pommies walk out in tee shirts & shorts & say, "Oooo... Tropical" LOL

15:06

Post lunch walk home along the beach. Think that sangria is still working on someone wink grin

12:39

Haven't done anything touristy for a while so: Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey. Yes, it's tough being a tourist! wink

18:15

Green grass & warm evening sunshine - nice smile Even better: found a bottle of Czech beer in the garage. Cheers! grin

13:03

Today's ride: up a lovely little - 1,200m at the top wink - climb. Parc Natural del Montseny. Just North of Barcelona.

08:19

Sadly this is a Spanish baguette. But... it's still warm from the oven & I only had to walk 50m to find it. Result!

14:23

Back in France so lunch supplies are easy: Find boulangerie, buy quiche &... no idea what the other is but was tasty!

13:13

Plenty of scope for CX training on today's ride wink By the beach & through wetland. And yes, those dots are flamingos!

08:06

Still working on that bag of oranges. So sweet & juicy. There are worse things to eat morning, noon & night! wink

16:01

Welcome to Lyon! This is why we usually avoid cities, but GPS says it's best way North. Doh! cry Cool clouds though.

07:51

Love French obsession with bread. We might be in motorway services miles from anywhere, but there's still fresh warm baguettes available! smile

12:26

After bit of a long day on the road... simple things sometimes make the best treats. Ahhhh...

13:06

Lunch stop in the Alsace region. Very traditional looking restaurant has Italian specials. Who are we to argue? wink tongue

13:50

Post lunch constitutional. This little village is Barr, & although it's still France the German influence is obvious.

17:40

Evening stroll around Deidesheim before dinner. And a bit of... ahem... silliness wink Warmer than it looks... honest!

18:35

I'm sure jamón slicing is a very earnest business... just no-one thought to tell these two! wink Oh dear! grin

18:37

So now the girls have finished messing about (ahem!!), it's time to get serious. Hand me a knife! grin

18:38

I did say we couldn't get a whole leg due to lack of slicing equipment in the snail. Lucky we're visiting friends! smile

18:45

My first attempt at jamón slicing. Should be thinner, but still tasted great. More practice required. On no! wink tongue

19:02

Typical afternoon in Germany? #DoingItTough #ThesePretzelsAreMakingMeThirsty grin

08:16

German breakfast. Well... Only part of it to be fair. Because we didn't eat enough swine last night! wink Yum! tongue

09:38

Even up here in Germany, spring is coming... yay!

12:00

For somewhere called, 'Beer World', these guys seem to have an awful lot of whiskey! wink Love this place! grin grin

12:10

Spotted in German drinks store. Lost in translation? No! It's 'hell' beer named after the Austrian village, 'Fucking'

07:03

Sunrise from a German vineyard. You have to love the random parking spots they lay on around here (Rhine valley).

12:24

Snail's in for it's TÜV (can you believe it's been a year!) so what to do? Lucky we know this restaurant close by smile

08:32

Frosty Black Forest morn. Quite a shock as we were by the Med few days back. Can feel a beautiful day coming though!

12:39

Quiet, smooth, twisty, rolling roads through beautiful nature & charming villages. I love riding the Black Forest! grin

17:10

Back from an awesome ride, evening sun & few bottles from local monastery at hand. Hmmm... decisions, decisions wink grin

12:42

Short walk into the local village. Through the forest, naturally smile

13:15

Hearty lunch under dappled shade in a beer garden next to the Abbey & old brewery where that beer originates. Cheers!

14:16

Part of the beer shop in Alpirsbach - next to the Abbey which founded this brewery. 2l bottle of beer anyone?! wink grin

14:31

Dessert time: Black Forest gâteau & more local beer. Like there's another choice?! Love a bakery that serves beer! grin

13:53

Today's ride: bit grey but always something interesting to see. This is on the dam wall at Stausee Kleine Kinzig.

17:18

Evening forest walk & a few trees are blossoming. Been great but allegedly it will snow here tomorrow! Time to leave!

13:59

Time for lunch so pick a spot to park up. This is Eglisau (Switzerland) on the banks of the Rhine. Wet but beautiful.

15:03

Swiss motorway services: beautiful, clean, modern, efficient... and rather expensive. Luckily we don't need any fuel!

11:57

Random view from the road en-route to Provence. This is on the hill above Puy-Saint-Martin. Lovely day smile

13:14

Yes, we did just squeeze though that archway, somehow defying the laws of physics! Love medieval French villages! wink

13:41

Passing through Vaison-la-Romaine. In 2012 I spent several hours on an IV drip 100m from this square. Fun times! wink

13:57

Rosbif lunch. Désolé monsieur, it's better in the UK wink Mousse for dessert was to die for though. Nom, nom, nom! tongue

14:04

When in Provence... grin 3° up top + 70kph wind chill equals completely numb fingers on the descent. Fun times! wink grin

15:31

Post ride snack. Despite it being a bit nippy up Ventoux looks like I got a bit sweaty somewhere on today's route! wink

13:24

Lazy day so will just walk into village. Someone is late so forced to sit & wait on sunny terrace. #Hardship #Sigh wink

13:50

Awesome table spotted outside a bar in Bédoin.

18:24

So... another difficult day draws to a close... Ahhhhh... smile

13:27

Random lunch stop in Remoulins. Not the prettiest of places, but this corner was still photogenic.

13:33

Ride from Lac du Salagou into the hills. Wonderful area with huge vistas & beautiful villages - like Lunas seen here.

12:15

Driving along that road from Capvern to Mauvezin. Always amazing views here, even on a cloudy day.

12:30

Local couple gave us the tip to go to this spot & collect wild garlic. Tasty in salad & cooking they said. We agree.

17:11

First evening back in the Pyrenees. Little walk around the new neighbourhood & introductions with the locals. Mooooo!

17:13

Busy day, but got out for lovely spring evening's spin in the Baronnies: tiny, quiet roads & plenty of punchy climbs!

20:59

The scene from our doorstep tonight: last rays of sunshine on the Pic du Midi. Yes, yes, with a very long lens! tongue

16:54

Cyclists should know this guy: He spends summer atop Col du Tourmalet but prefers to winter in the valley it seems wink

10:52

First Tourmalet ascent of the year. Last 3km closed to cars, but not bikes! grin As usual, sucks to be a car driver! tongue

11:33

Today's ride: foothills then Chiroulet, which is in the valley between the 2 main peaks in 1st pic. Beautiful day smile

19:50

Impromptu dinner invite. Lots of excellent Asian food, especially that beef rendang! Nom, nom, nom! tongue :P

18:18

Rest day done right: just lounging around our 'garden' - aka. the campsite wink - in the evening sunshine. Ahhhhh... smile

12:51

Big week of riding ends with loop to next valley & home over this little climb. Stayed dry despite the clouds. Phew!

11:27

Rest day stroll. Got a little carried away & ended up going 8km to the next village & source of the Crastes. Oops wink

11:36

What passes for an easy local loop these days wink Couple of hours smashing round beautiful, empty roads like this! grin

21:47

Impromptu dinner. French moule frite very nice, but sorry, still not as good as the Belgiums! Great dessert though tongue

21:28

Indonesian's don't drink, huh? The one's in France do! wink grin What I had to endure at a local 'Arisan' gathering wink tongue

13:53

I never do coffee stops but beer & pizza is mid-ride break I can get behind wink 122km & Hautacam PR today. Love it! grin

11:45

Things to do this arvo, so little spin up the Aspin & to Lac de Payolle was all there was time for today. Oh well! wink

13:04

Toasty today at 34° in the Baronnies! View back to the snowy peaks from near Capvern. Hmmmmmm.... snnnnooooowwwwww wink

13:40

Col de Beyrede (some dirt & gravel on the climb) & Hourquette d'Ancizan. Cos you can't do famous cols ALL the time wink

15:37

A few locals obviously thought phone I pulled from my back pocket was food. Sorry! Will bring carrots next time! wink

19:57

Schoolboy error: Out riding & remembering there's only 1 bottle of beer in fridge! Masterful save: It's a 3 Monts! wink

20:08

... some time later... smile Just enjoying the evening sun with a few tunes & amber refreshment. It's a hard life! tongue grin

12:46

Accidentally plotted a cycling course up the wrong hill & ended up here: Plaine d'Esquiou. Could have been worse! wink

12:15

More French hardship: tough choices to make in the patisserie wink BTW, we went the gateaux fraise & it was to die for!

20:51

All I could find in the fridge... Leffe & Duval. How terrible! wink Cheers! grin

19:29

Another back to back tasting test. Duval v St Bernardus Tripel. Verdict: too close to call. More testing required! wink

14:22

Bit of a struggle up the Tourmalet today. What with heat & running out of water after going long way round. Oops! wink

15:14

Salt on jersey is normal but I took ass-sweat to whole new level today wink 100km Tourmalet loop & still 30° at 1700m!

11:56

Fresh baguette delivery in France. Bread here is seldom wrapped & clearly throwing it in an old pipe isn't an issue!

12:25

Helping friends collect cherries from this beautiful tree in their yard. Yuuuuuum! tongue

12:38

When you drop round to friends for lunch... and are served a four course gourmet meal! Nom, nom, nom tongue Thank you! smile

21:34

Evening 'snack'. Nom, nom, nom... tongue

19:11

Last day of spring evening ride with my beautiful - if a little slow... ahem! tongue - riding partner. Niiiice! smile grin