Arcalis Andorra

Arcallis - Andorra - and a Strava segment sign (ooh) TdF 100 No.30
Date: 27th August 2022
Ride No. 30
Grade: 8/10
Location: Ordino, Andorra
Segment ID:16621368
My Time:  1:20:57





Not one, but two

I like to base camp at a location that allows me a short drive to reach a few climbs.

Less packing/unpacking makes life easier.

The ‘maître d’ of the campsite now appreciated the hungry and thirsty Brit who hadn’t reserved a table, as I ordered a dessert to fill the corners.

To amuse myself between courses, I opened the map/app I had looked at thousands of times.

I enjoyed the good parts ? climbing Port de Pailheres and I was eager to plan tomorrow.

The weather reports for the Ax les Thermes area were not great.

Further afield, however, looked good.

I noticed a climb about 30 miles south, which I hadn’t really planned yet.

‘Might be a good idea to pick that one off as it will be a bit of a bugger to divert to later.’

I clicked on the mapped start point to get the low down.

‘Oh, ‘Quelle surprise, Rodney’, there are two climbs right next to each other.

Do them both in one hit then.’

The hour drive wouldn’t be a problem, just down the road, considering the distances already driven.

Dessert arrived and my immediate thoughts changed, but I was content I had a plan for tomorrow.


20Kgs of Cocaine

A great night’s sleep and no sign of thunderstorms.

Strange noises and loud conversation from the nearby road puzzled me until, through a clearing, I could see people climbing up the road on roller skis.

Not something I see every day.

The day’s necessities were all packed, and it was time to go.

‘Tom-Tom let’s go to Ordino.’

Tom-Tom flashes up a message to inform me I will cross into another country. ‘WHAT???’

Ordino is in Andorra, so I am informed. ?


I can spell it but that’s my limit of my knowledge of Andorra.

‘Another country, Ooooh’. How exciting!

As I got closer, I thought. (Oh dear).

Do they speak French in Andorra or Spanish?

French, I hope, but it wouldn’t make any difference to me. I am equally unfluent in both.

I presumed they were in Europe and euros would work, but would I need my passport?

Was my car / health insurance valid, etc.?

All stupid questions of a person with too much time on their hands.

A ‘Passport Control’ sign appears, and everyone slows down slightly.


In the booth, two officials sat sharing a laugh, checking passports was on the agenda today.

So, my 20Kg of cocaine in the boot was safe.

Anyway, I drove on and the mountains towered into view, exciting.

The satnav continually alarmed about approaching speed cameras. I had never seen so many.

Is that how they make money in Andorra?

Andorra is immaculate, and on balance I concluded that this looks a place for the well-heeled and probably not for my sort of riff raff.

Anyway, me and the Brompton are here now.


Target time

Ok, two climbs, both starting at the same roundabout, tough one first.

Andorre-Arcalis it is and 30º will make it tough.

A quick confirmation and note that some bloke called Nibali is KOM at 44:03 mins.

I hope he doesn’t get upset later.


The segment start is from the town along its wide cycle lanes.

A third of the way up and the Garmin moans that I’m off course.

I need to take some side road; it informs me.

No, I don’t agree, this is Tour de France route, and they are not going off down a one lane dirt track, so I carry on.

The Garmin insists and wants to re-route, so now it’s a bit of a concern.

I checked and checked again and decided that it must have lost the GPS signal. (Technical explanation: the Garmin has its knickers in a twist)

I ride on, hoping the route is correct and by divine intervention, a tunnel high yellow TdF mural appears.

Well, that gave the game away. Phew!

Three quarters up and climb, and three large concrete blocks block the road.

As I close in, I can see this is to stop cars going any further, but bikes are fine.

Woohoo, a clear run up.


Never seen one of those before

The summit ski station complex is a busy place with people taking ski lifts to walk the ridge or are riding mountain bike routes.

Hats off to Ordino, they are making the most of the mountain for people to enjoy without the snow.

I still had that nagging doubt about the route, though.

I checked my phone app to confirm.

No signal, not even a one bar blip, this was not the reassurance I was seeking.

Surely there is a mobile network in Andorra? crossed my mind, but that was the thinking of a desperate cyclist.

Nothing I can do except have an exploration of the area.


The sight of the Brompton proved an attraction.

Three people asked about the configuration and asked to take photos. (Just the Brompton, not me ☹)

I rewarded them, of course, by allowing them to take my photo next to a STRAVA sign with my phone. (Ooooh, the first one of those I had seen).

Back down I go.

I wondered if I would have to repeat on the Garmin route. (Not something I relished).


Good advice?

Back at the car for quick clothing change and to upload the ride.

Impatiently, I waited for confirmation.

I have 2 bars on a 3G network, and nothing is loading. Great.

Tesco bursts onto phone.

My data cap is running out and I might want to increase it.

Call this number, go online or use the app to do it now.

Whereas the message might be true, it was as useful as a spaghetti spanner.

I cannot reach the website, the app won’t load, and it does not recognise the phone number from Andorra. Bugger it! ?

Ah well, time to wander around the town and hope to jump on a free guest Wi-Fi.

Four bars from a local restaurant will do nicely.


I consider religion

First thing, check Garmin Express.

A blank screen, then a message appears.

‘Sorry our servers are down, and we are trying to restore as quickly as possible.’

‘Really!!!’, ‘You’re having a laugh.’

It’s at this point I consider religion for the sake of some more divine intervention.

I’m sure I did the climb right. I’m positive, no, I’m sure, yes, totally, but…

A food demanding stomach interrupted my concerns.

There are no Greggs here, only places that involve sitting at a table and being waited on.

I don’t think I quite dressed for that.

But wait, a general store is on the corner of the street.

Lunch sorted in style, 3 croissants and a can of Monster (high-carb diet, I guess you could call it).