Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Our 18.5 mile Christmas Day bicycle ride

Street art near Theza 
In the true tradition of Christmas we got a bit carried away on the Day itself, but instead of overindulging in food or drink we set out for a little bike ride and ended up doing an 18.5 mile epic! It was great fun to be out in the sunshine on mostly pretty quiet roads, circling a lake, and spotting examples of fabulous street art en route. Dave gmapped our whole route when we got back so if you'd like to see exactly where we cycled to and around, click This Link Here!

The painted electricity box above was, I think, just off a main road near Theza. I love its depiction of a clog wearing man hanging on to his hat as the wind tries to blow him away!

Snow capped mountains from Lac de la Raho 
Shortly after Theza, we arrived in Villeneuve de la Raho where we had driven last week for a stroll around the large municipal lake they have there. We paused nearby to check where we were on Dave's map and decided to detour for another circuit of the lake, this time on our bicycles. It was wonderful to be able to look across the water to the snow capped mountains in the distance. They did seem to have more snow this year than at roughly the same time last year so we checked against our Ceret photos today and this is indeed the case. The lake wasn't quite as busy as our previous weekday walk, but there were still a good number of joggers, cyclists and families making the most of the leisure facility. One group had even set up a large table for a meal.

Insect Hotel at Lac de la Raho 
We didn't quite complete a full loop before leaving the lake as we wanted to exit Villeneuve de la Raho from the other side of town. However we did get far enough round that I could photograph this large Insect Hotel. There were people in the way last time. The Hotel is over a metre high and stacked with different shaped and filled 'rooms' to encourage a wide variety of insect life to while away winter there. We did peer in, but couldn't actually see any nesting guests!

The roads got even quieter as we cycled away from the lake, everybody presumably having made it to their Christmas lunches by this point. I was starting to slightly regret have suggested the detour as it dawned on me just how far away we still were from our campsite! I was soon glad to be going through Bages though as we saw the fabulous train (pictured below) bursting through a house's first floor wall! It looks even more three-dimensional in real life than in my photograph and was an incredible sight. I have no idea why this particular mural is here and forgot to look for the artist's name. Please do Comment if you know!

Train street art in Bages 
There were some interesting old buildings in Bages too so we might return at some point for more of an explore. On Christmas Day though we fairly zoomed through both Bages and Montescot. Elne was the quietest we have yet seen it - one pedestrian out in the whole town apparently - and we triggered another speed checker. 17kph this time, but it wasn't uphill like the last one was. Our cycle ride took about nearly three hours altogether with various photo and map checking stops along the way.

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