Those regular readers who have not banished this blog for excessive cycling content will understand that at this point in my trip I was suffering considerably from sewing withdrawal symptoms.
I had tried to hold these at bay by knitting.
(Silkroad DK Tweed, heavily modified pattern from Jo Sharp Contemporary 2)
Unfortunately, although I like knitting, it is not nearly so satisfying to me as sewing.
I had been very well behaved, and did not even stop at the base of the Tourmalet when I rode past a shop advertising hand woven fabrics from local mohair. This took some fortitude.
I had, however, been searching for pattern magazines in every newsagent within reach.
Arreau is only 30km from Spain. I was expecting to see Spanish magazines, including Patrones, which I had only read about. To my dismay, I had not even come across a French Burda, although my husband reported that the cycling magazine selection was truly impressive.
The day after we climbed the Tourmalet, the original plan was to climb it again, in reverse. Just quietly, I thought this was a little bit of overkill, but was keeping my head down during the discussion of any cycling plan - cycling fanatics are not entirely reasonable about cycling. To my secret glee, we woke to terrible weather.
I was very happy walking around the weekly markets at Arreau in the rain (the raincoat worked perfectly), and even more happy when after the post breakfast discussion, the planned ride was cancelled.
I was just planning out my next knitting project when someone suggested we drive to Spain.
Most of the group were Australian, so visiting another country by merely driving 30km has a novel appeal, and as one of the group was born in Chile, we thought ordering coffee in Spain would be pretty simple.
After a remarkably short and picturesque drive, we were in another country - no customs, no immigration, no stamp in the passport. Weird.
It also seemed weird that Spain was completely different- architecture, road signs, even the mountains were different, more harsh and steep ( I had expected a more gradual transition). Fortunately, the coffee was also different (we much preferred it to French coffee).
Even better, in the tiny supermarket (town population 900) I found Patrones, 2 issues. Naturally I bought both of them, without even glimpsing at the content.
Normally I would be skeptical about a magazine with a monokini on the front cover, but this was a desperate situation.
I was equally excited to see another copy of the same issues in the tacky tourist shop next to the ancient church. I bought these too, thinking of the friend I would be visiting in England.
The cyclists (men) were highly amused. "Do you speak Spanish?" (No) "My wife would never do that, she likes shopping" (Good for her)"Why would you bother?" (too hard to explain). I tuned out the thrilling discussion regarding gear ratios and looked at my magazines all the way back to France.
I felt much better.
A bit of knitting whilst watching the tour on television and discussing the effects of alcohol on sports performance over a glass of orangina (I hope the blokes with the beer were listening), and I was even feeling a little under-exercised.
In the afternoon, the weather cleared a little and we rode up another, non famous, Col. This was my favourite ride of the whole tour, being the most scenic, and having no traffic.(Also the beer, or going too fast the day before, was working on the men :) ) On the other hand, maybe an hour or so perusing sewing magazines had made the cycling more enjoyable.