5,448km down: 777km to go
How nice it was to wake up in a bed, even though for some reason mine had a plastic undersheet, so it crinkled every time I turned over, but I still slept well. Breakfast was amazing, fresh fruit, TOAST, homemade cake, meat platters, juice, proper coffee, plus freshly made omelettes. The lady came out and said “Anyone like an omelette?” and eight rider’s hands went up instantly. We were joking that next time the tour books in there the owner will say “Ok, 8 riders? That equals food for 18” and charge accordingly. The people running the place were really friendly and we all thought it was fantastic. We all left rested, well fed, and happy. I think it would have been a different scenario if we had stayed on a sports ground (aka piece of dirt) and had to use one shower between us, like was originally planned.
On the way out of town there was an amazing monastery, I took a photo but it doesn’t show how big it is. The fence goes for ages around a hill, and there are also buildings at the back.
Christiano talks about how this tour is not just physically testing, but also psychological testing. Not only do you have to get along with a group of riders you have never met, staying at campsites with other noisy campers that stay up until the wee hours, barking dogs, enthusiastic roosters, heat, and bugs. But added to this, you have no idea of the day ahead, no idea how high or long the hills are, unlike when you do your usual route at home, so you are always holding a bit in reserve in case you get the killer hill. But it also adds to the fun, as like today you have fairly low expectations and end up with one of the best rides of the tour.
It was really cold this morning once we had left the hotel, it was only 7 degrees, and of course having rationalized my panniers my jacket was in my daily bag that had left in the truck already. The hotel was really warm, so the cold was unexpected. Thinking about it later though the hotel had really thick concrete walls which would hold in the heat. (I have now pulled my jacket out ready for tomorrow morning).
We rode the first 70k around the perimeter of a national park called Parque Natural Alto Tajo. It was very scenic, with trees, cliffs, and even a deer running across the road. Plus there was a very pretty river / pond area. Amazingly enough, you are allowed to take dogs on a leash and have them in the camping grounds, so long as they are tied up. Actually if I had not said already, having dogs at the camping grounds is very common (not just the owners but also the campers), plus often a number of pretty feral looking cats!
I warmed up on the first hill about 6k, up but then we had a downhill that went for about 10k, under trees and in a gully. By the time we got to the bottom I was freezing and looking forward to an uphill! Pinch me but it’s true!
After going up for about one kilometre we came to a sunny bit and stopped and looked around. We were lucky enough to see 17 condors or eagles – there is a difference of opinion amongst the riders. It was fantastic, we stayed there for ages watching them soar and glide. Two came and had a closer look at us, but then soared away again.
The ride until lunch was great, some ups but also good downs. My legs felt better than I had expected, even though they are stiff when I walk, they are ok on the bike.
After lunch we had a couple of fantastic down hills, and then we had some rolling hills. With the wind assisting me I hit 51kph pedalling uphill. It certainly helps the more speed you can pick up, the less work it is to get up it. I have still not broken my downhill record, I have got to 56kph a number of times this trip, today included, but still have not broken through the 56kph barrier.
The road we were riding on that had the great rollers was called Paso De Ganada. Then we made a right turn and crikey, at the end of the road were two big hills with the wind now against us! My legs were tired but being only 10k from the camp gave me the needed energy to push up the hills. All the hills today were honest hills, up 1,321, but down 1,671 🙂
We are staying at a camp site called Camping Ecomillans, back to dirt again but only one night back in a tent and then three nights in Madrid. While we are in Madrid we are going to go to a restaurant called Botin which is the oldest restaurant in the world. Yes very touristy, but it has to be done, we have booked already. I also want to go and see the flamenco dancers.