Raid Pyrenees - Day 1: Fog, pizza, a beach and a wild camp

Updated: Feb 7, 2019

Creeping past Amadie's room, into the shower and then onto the all important tea-making task, it didn't feel at all as though I was about to kick off the biggest ride of my life in a matter of hours. The reality however was that I had 30 minutes to drink my tea, run through my kit (again) and have what could be the last poo in an actual porcelain toilet for a whole week - and all before the 4.5 hour drive to the west coast and Hendaye.

Mike rocked up with Archie at bang on 7am wearing full cycling kit - he wanted to be ready to go the moment we arrived at the coast!

We necked a coffee and loaded my bike.

It was very misty with a bite in the air as left but the forecast for Hendaye was looking good. 27 degrees, clear and sunny with a slight breeze that would push us west. Perfect!

Mike entertained us with his stories of living and working in the Gambia and, with just one stop for comfort and coffee, we arrived at Hendaye just in time for Pizza. Archie parked up whilst we loaded the bikes with kit and made our final checks. We found a lovely little pizzeria on a side street off the main drag where we noshed down a pizza each and an obligatory beer -who knew when we'd get our next one? I quickly got changed in the smallest toilet cubicle in all of Europe and we walked our heavily laden bikes to beach and a point we would call The Start. My last minute change of panniers meant I had a bit more space than before so nothing had to be lashed to the outside - which was doing wonders for my bikepacking fengshui.

It quickly became apparent just how heavy our bikes were as we both needed Archie to help us lift them down the steps off the promenade and onto the sand. We were in trouble already!

The beach was busy with people enjoying a very warm, sunny Saturday in September and a few sunbathers looked on as Archie took a photo and we struggled to get the bikes back onto the pavement!

After a short goodbye to Archie I fired up the Hammerhead Karoo and we were off and somewhat counterintuitively heading north along the coast for what felt like ages. It was busy on the main road too and after a couple navigational issues out of the way, we were soon headed west with the mountains ahead of us.