SPICY HEIGHTS (by Pierre Labardant Gravillon)
A stone's throw from the seaside, on these fronts on which vans and surfboards congregate, rise heights that let peace and gravel reign supreme. The first foothills of the Pyrenees reveal all their beauty when the summer becomes Indian and Euskal Herria offers its trails to the goodwill of crampon bikes.
It is on these stony terrains, housed between the ocean and the mountains, that the Wigwam Store team, proud importers of major outdoor brands such as Topo Designs, regularly find themselves in the saddle. (Trying to) Following them on these tracks quickly turns into an adventure, when the stones roll on the paths and the elevations are displayed in double digits.
And when the ground sometimes comes to calm, chestnuts – and their cortege of bugs – and Pottoks arise, at the bends and slopes. Along these paths neglected by hikers, nature bristles and rears. She offers herself but stays away. Wild she is. Savage she stays.
The grueling heat that accompanies the ascent suddenly turns cold. Shadow and stream come to cool the ardor. Freed from the brushcutter tyranny, the brambles regain their rightful place and strike the shins while the nettles caress the calves when the foot comes to rest on the ground. Greenery rhymes with bruising, but in no way diminishes the enthusiasm.
Among this green infinity, the blue of the sky and the red of the peppers, which twist in the fields, struggle to be seen. The crampons, which have long felt the rock, are loaded with mud. Fresh water comes to soak the socks when the fords are crossed. A strange feeling of hot and cold runs through the back of the neck and makes the experience decidedly unusual.
Very quickly, the foot dries up and the forehead runs off. The sun becomes fierce as the altitude increases, the day progresses and the body suffers. The hunt is on. In search of sensations and a second wind. The course of 1000 meters of D+ has just been crossed.
The panorama is offered and nature is more concise in its presentation. The rocks share the limelight with the ferns which are beginning to seriously scorch. Like the volcanoes in Auvergne and the slag heaps in the North, the mountains encircle the progression. Rounded green-brown peaks everywhere and delight the eye.
The presence of man is rarely remembered in our (good) memory. Few fences block the road. Also rare are the waste that can pave certain hiking trails. The Basque loves his land and respects his nature. He can be proud of the heritage he fiercely defends, even if the battle promises to be fierce to preserve authenticity when the TGV comes to pour in its batch of new "lovers" of the country every day.
How not to be ecstatic in front of such a spectacle? Hands paralyzed from having gripped the pots too tightly, calves hardened by the climbs and necks abused by the rocks fail to spoil the pleasure. The sweat streaming into the eyes could even mix with tears at times.
At the end of 60 km and nearly 1,500 meters of D+, the effort gives way to accomplishment. Glad to have discovered new horizons. And to the impatience that arises at the idea of returning in the spring of 2023, when the Born To Ride organized by Chilkoot will come to an end in style in Biarritz.
about GRAVILLON :
A collective participatory blog run by a handful of cycling enthusiasts, Gravillon has for ten years become an essential source of stories, information and other technical advice and suggestions for routes, experiences and races. The link to visit our friends at Gravillon is HERE !