After two wonderful rest days in Limoux, it was time to get back on the saddle. We prepared ourselves for a lot of climbing as we set our sights on Spain and Torrevieja.
Even though we had adjusted our end goal, we would not step off the pedal; we hoped to have some time to rest in Torrevieja, before tackling the move and all that comes with it.
From Limoux we had two options: a more direct route bordering the small country of Andorra or a less direct route via Perpignan and the coast.
We had been in favour of the more direct route until we spoke to some of Chris’s friends on Friday. Couple of them also enjoyed cycling and strongly advised us against the more direct route, especially with luggage on our bikes. They said the climbs were gruelling.
We did not fancy that at this point of the ride, so opted for the coastal route. And trust me, there was plenty of climbing going that way, too. When we tackled the climbs on that route, we were mighty glad we hadn’t gone the other way.
The route after we left Limoux was beautiful. We saw some of the most stunning scenery of the whole ride. Although, I think I have said that before. Most of the scenery we saw was stunning, but in different ways. The only time it got a bit boring were the continuous fields in Sweden and Denmark. But perhaps that was largely down to the route we had chosen.
There were many times on the journey when I got overwhelmed by the beauty and how I was given the gift of being able to do this ride. The gift of recovering from the treatments so well that only two years after finishing them, I could cycle across Europe.
Surrounded by the beauty of those majestic mountains that towered above us, drove home the majesty of the universe and how so much becomes possible when you have faith. Faith in your own abilities, faith in the universe, faith in your doctors, faith in your friends and family.
But most of all faith in that everything will work out for the best. And that we need to remember to be grateful for whatever life throws at us.
Yes, I am even grateful for having cancer and even more grateful for being cancer free now. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now had cancer not given me a giant kick up the arse. And I would not have been ready to embrace the challenge those climbs provided.
Having rested for two days, our legs felt fresh again, and we powered up the hills easily. Those fresh legs also carried us another 111 kilometres towards our goal. An excellent distance, especially when France treated us to one more puncture. This time, it was Justin’s rear wheel.
Another puncture fixed, we continued our way until we found a suitable campsite just south of Perpignan, in Villeneuve-de-la-Raho.
The day had been hot, and unlike further north, the temperature remained warm during the night, too. It makes such a difference to wake up warm. Out of old habit, I put my jacket on when we started, but the day warmed up so quickly, I had to strip off before too long.
But not as much as some people we saw later on…
Villeneuve-de-la-Raho is only 28 kilometres from the border town of Le Perthus and we crossed into Spain and the final country of our ride in the late morning. I’m getting quite emotional as I write this and remember the mixed feelings we had crossing the border.
On one hand, we were tired and looking forward to getting to Torrevieja and doing nothing at all for a few days at least. On the other hand, we loved bicycle touring so much that it was bittersweet knowing we only had just over a week left.
Once again, we didn’t need our passports, and we rolled into Spain. Literally, as it had been a long uphill to Le Perthus on the French side and now the Spanish side greeted us with a lovely downhill.
We hadn’t cycled far when we saw our first roadside prostitute. I nearly came off my bike as the young woman simply pulled her top over her head and stood there dressed in only the tiniest underpants.
Another one we saw later on had brought an umbrella, a comfortable chair and book with her as she waited for customers.
In Spain, prostitution is not illegal as long as the person offering sexual services is doing it of their own will and the act doesn’t take place in a public space.
(Since of course I have no pictures of the prostitutes, here are some pictures from the border instead.)
I am in two minds about this. Everyone is free to do what they like with their body. So if they choose to sell it, that is their business. However, my question is: would they do it if they had an alternative?
I cannot see that anyone would want to pick up random men (some of them probably quite unpleasant) and have sex with them for money if they could earn it elsewhere. Then, of course, there are the dangers associated with prostitution. What protection do these women have if the man they have picked up turns violent? Or doesn’t pay them?
I am not judging these women in any way. And if they enjoy it, then great. If not, I wish they could find another way to make a living that doesn’t involve selling their bodies.
Having recovered from our surprise, we picked up speed again and got another decent ride under our belt with 105 kilometres before we stopped in the beautiful Girona.
In Girona, the cold nights were back, and we broke something rather useful. But more on that next time.
Until next time, and as always, thank you for being here.