Gunderson Experiences

Doing all the things

Andorra - Boot Camp

Jul 8, 2023

July 4- 14, 2023

Andorra - I call it Boot Camp because Andorra offers many things similar to the Rockies, but we have not been in the Rockies. We entered Andorra ready to be ourselves - cyclists, mountaineers... And it hurt. But it was the good hurt. Jansen. Fisher and I swapped time riding over a 6 day period. The other half of the day was spent climbing a Via Ferrata, horseback riding, hiking with the Menarions, or visiting SSSSPPAAAActular.

Andorra is a place where many professional athletes go to train. It has accessible mountains, beautiful terrain and low taxes. They speak 3 languages - Catalon, French and Spanish. Do not expect any English. In fact, we did not meet any English speakers there entire time. Jansen saw a few professional mountain bikers from USA, but otherwise, NADA. The food is shockingly good. The sausage and wine cheap. I absolutely loved Andorra.

Canal de Mora. The Via Ferrata from our AirBnB. Only a 5 minute walk, literally vertical roads to vertical rock. Canillo, the town we stayed, is in view down from us in this picture.

We trekked up this Via Ferrata and when we reached the top, we had two options. Continue to the top of the mountain which was another 1000 feet of loose vertical trail, or go back down. The whole gang voted to top it out. I am so proud of this crew! We topped out at the Mirador Roc del Quer

View from Mirador Roc del Quer

The Tibetan bridge of Canillo

These kids had no problem walking across a bridge that is 600 meters long over a 2000 meter drop. Soren stood in the middle and said "I am not afraid of heights anymore Mom!". All the while, I was secretly clinging to the rail and looking ahead to avoid the vertigo!

Naturelandia - Horse Back Riding

The kids and I headed up North to see Naturelandia. We rode horses with amazing views of Spain.

Bike Time! A lot of bike photos because we rode ALOT!

Tunnels were mandatory at times. Not fun, but not too bad

Anna and Jansen at top of Col de Casa. Looking over France.

Coll d'Ordino was just outside our door. It was a favorite because it averaged only 8% rather than +10% like many of the other climbs. I remember during one climb looking at the sign which said the average for next 1km was 7.8%. I was psyched. I had been going over 9% for the previous 5km, so it felt so easy to shift down!

Collada de Beixalis was a gnarly climb. It was in the Tour de France 2016 and 2021. Sepp Kuss won the stage in 2021 on top of this climb. He is an American from Idaho. I am sure you guessed by his very American name!

Tour de France Graffiti

95% of riders in Andorra are professional. The roads are well maintained and the drivers respectful. It was a lovely place to ride road bikes.

Playgrounds and SSSSPPPAAAAAtastic

Les Escaldes, Andorra was a cool town in Andorra. It is very pedestrian friendly. It has unique architecture and really cool playgrounds. We have seen a lot of playgrounds. Andorra takes the cake by far. It appeals to all ages, adults included.

We also visited Caldea Spa. We did not take pictures because once inside, you leave your phone, shoes, towel, everything. You simply go into a giant spa and swim, enjoy water therapy massages and relax. No need to Instagram anything. It was very therapeutic.

The outside of Caldea SPA

Seriously - those are slides at the local playground

The kids favorite restaurant in all of Europe.

Olympus challenge in Andorra. You have to look this one up. It is quite the challenge!

The snow plow. Andorra is typically known as a ski country. Only recently have they indulged in summer activities.

Local climbing wall

We thought it was a snake but closer investigation reveals a legless lizard.

Contemplating a local beer

Via Ferratas!

Menairon Forest

The menairons are beings so tiny that thousands of them can fit inside the tube of a sewing needle. They emerge from a plant known as
St. John’s herb (a kind of fern, herba menaironera in Catalan) during the night of the summer solstice, and are protected by dragons.

Andorra has created many trails for kids. This was one of them. Soren and Saraya walked 5 miles without one complaint. Who can complain when you are on a hunt to find the treasures of the menairons.