A wet downhill with countless switchbacks takes me to who knows where. When it's dark, places stop having names. Everything is just a blur of somber shapes. I'm riding in zombie mode, not looking at my power nor my speed. Forward progress is all that matters, even if it's slow. The rain gets heavier as I leave a tiny village to climb yet another pass, it's a hard and long one, the kind I feel will never end, especially at night, but everything ends at some point, even the rain. The bottom of the descent marks the end of the magic land of Andorra, I had no idea it was this big and this unforgiving. Some people call it the Las Vegas of the Pyrenees and for sure, it does seem a bit strange and fake, I'm happy to cross into Spain. Especially since my last few kilometers in Andorra almost ended in a crash when my front wheel slid on a manhole cover as I was cornering down a hill.
There's a fair bit of flat tarmac as I enter Spain and I welcome it with open arms. I'm starting to feel really tired and sleepy but I know I don't have too long to hold on before dawn. Tucked in my aerobars, I pedal and struggle to stay awake. As the sun rises, the climbing starts again...
As I slowly get out of zombie mode, Joe, fresh from the full hour of sleep he caught not far from here, catches me and proceeds to fly away. I try to hang on from a distance, but I just don't have enough energy.
The small climbs of this part of the route go through lovely little villages and under the clear skies, the storm from last night seems like a distant memory. Pretty soon I spot Joe who stopped on the side of the road to grab something in his saddle bag. I wave and keep going. After a little while I ride across a small town. It's early and all the shops are still closed. I haven't eaten anything all night and I'm in dire need of calories. But the food I carry, which consists of salty nuts, sweet protein bars and half a sandwich, still doesn't tempt me. Luckily I spot a gas station before embarking on the next climb. I down a liter of chocolate milk, eat a donut and I'm on my way. The climbs are shorter now that I'm done with Andorra and that's a good thing. The super long climbs of the first day really wore me down physically and mentally and I welcome the change. I summit Puerto de Bonansa at 1380m then it's on to a straight wide road. The climbs are steep but the downhills are really fast and I see my average speed go up which is a huge boost to my morale.
After a couple of hours, I take a turn off that big road onto a lovely small one. I stop to take a leak near a building and spot a trash can. That's when I do something really stupid. I throw away all the food I was carrying from the beginning, convinced that I'm never ever going to want to eat it and that it's just dead weight. I get going and finally, I'm enjoying myself. The scenery is beautiful and I take it in, forgetful of the race and all the pains that derive from it. I stop in a shop to drink more chocolate milk and eat another donut. I look for gummy bears but to no avail. The Canyon de Anisclo comes next and it's spectacular! I have to say I hated day one but I'm really loving day 2. I let the views sink in and listen to the roar of the water down the gorge. I climb out of the canyon and up another pass.
The rest of this day is a bit of a mess in my head. Sleep deprivation makes it hard to remember which parts came when. I remember climbing on a road that was so broken, it could be classified as gravel. I remember stopping in a gas station for two small sandwiches and telling myself "hunger is slowly coming back". I remember trying to push hard on some climbs to see if I still had some power left. I remember fighting a head wind coming from the west and wondering if I would have to fight it all the way to the Atlantic. I remember entering somewhat of a big town but having to exit it before seeing any shops. A remember a climb that was short but had a steady 15% gradient.