In Bejar

Well another week has past and I have had some great rides as I have made my from Burgos to Bejar. 7298km down and 657km to go, each day is becoming another skip in the countdown.

First stop after Burgos was Castrojeriz, a lovely little village and my last stop on the Camino de Santiago. Food was great, people were friendly and buildings and vista beautiful. Then it was Palencia (hmmm!), Toro, Zamora (where I joined the Ruta del la Plata) and Salamanca – all three I would recommend as must see places.

Salamanca in particular was fantastic, not just for the beauty of the buildings, but because of the number of them. At times you could turn around 360-degrees as see magnificent architecture. An afternoon did not do it justice and it is a place where Rose and I will return (oh yes, it also has heaps of great show shops).

After Salamanca is was then a tough ride to Bejar. Over a 1000m of hill climbing over the tail of the Sierra de Gredos before finally putting the high plateau behind me and starting the decent to Bejar.

Not quite the end of hills though as I still have the Sierra Morena to cross before Seville, but the pass above Bejar at 1200m was the highest point of the ride.

As much as the days riding between coffee shops in idyllic villages is a great way to spend a day, it has been a week where I feel tired. It’s been a great adventure but I am looking forward to it ending, and with luck after ten more rides it will.

Huge congratulations to Rachel on the completion of her thesis. The world now has a definitive account of Christopher Lambert’s affect on Scottish National IdentityūüôÉ ¬†OK, maybe that’s Highlanders in general. We are all very proud of her.

Time for another stroll to loosen my legs for tomorrow, though as I lose 500m of altitude it will mainly be a matter of hanging on and enjoying the ride.

Best wishes to all.

Castrojeriz

Palencia

Toro

Zamora

Salamanca

Bejar

 

 

Along the Camino

Hello All

It’s coming to the end of my rest day in Burgos, a small city some 250km down the road from Pamplona.

It has been quite a leisurely ride, flanking or riding along the Camino de Santiago as it goes from village to village. It’s a very picturesque route but I can understand some of the criticism about it being included amongst the world’s great treks.

As a pilgrim route it obviously developed in a time before leisurely (let alone challenging) trekking and is essentially a walk from town to town on the way to a destination. While there are a few sections of “trail” much of the route is along roads – some dirt, some sealed and in some stretches the main highway is the only path.

For the many pilgrims this  is not really an issue, but for those seeking a trekking experience, I can understand the disappointment. The many towns and villages are definitely worth seeing but well-cushioned walking boots are highly recommended as there is a lot of bitumen and crushed rock tracks in between. A bike is ideal Рthough I have only seen a handful of other cyclists.

Contrary to the warnings the pilgrims haven’t thrown any stones!

While I followed the Camino through the parks and along a few dirt roads, most of the the time I stuck to the secondary road that flanked the main highway. The climbs were a lot easier than anticipated and the days short leaving plenty of time to stop wherever I saw a coffee shop and to explore the town at the end of the ride.

I must admit that the alleyways and cathedrals are beginning to blur, but it’s still a pleasant way to stretch your legs after a ride.

Tomorrow I head to Castrojeriz, where I will leave the Camino and head southwest via Palencia to meet up with the Ruta de la Plata in Zamora. By tomorrow night the odometer will have past the 7,000km mark and the distance to go dropped to three digits!

I’m at that point where I am starting to wish it was over. Physically I feel great, but mentally it is becoming increasingly difficult not to focus on the destination and see each day’s journey as one step closer to this.

But the remaining journey will take me through some amazing places РPalencia, Toro, Zamora, Salamanca, Càceres, Seville and Càdiz Рto name a few, with a chance to see remnants of the Roman and Moorish history of Spain.

Enjoy the photos (WIFI here was painfully slow and it took three hours to load them).

To Estella

To Longrono

To Santo Domingo de la Calzada

To Burgos

 

From Arcachon

It’s Saturday morning (just) and eight days, eight rides and 628km from Nantes I am having a day off to rest my weary legs; and ensure I get a chance to get some food before “sorry we’re closed, just starve Sunday”.

From Nantes I resumed my ride along La Loire à Vélo, which was now sharing its route with La Velodyssey, which in turn is the French leg of my old friend Eurovelo 1 that I had last seen in Bergen (3,368 km ago on the 5th of July).

Makes for very confusing signage but my friends in Local Government will be familiar with the process where a local initiative is rebranded by “higher” levels of Government as a substitute for activity. So basically I have followed La Loire, Ouystre, Vend√©e and other local trails which from time to time include the National or Supranational Logo. Nice to know that democracy is being well served by three levels of Marketing Departments!

A very enjoyable ride along an increasingly wider and busier Loire; along long stretches of the Atlantic coast; through the maze of little backroads that crisscross the marshlands and the lovely forest trail that runs through a 100km stretch of Pine Forest planted in the sand dunes (that apparently has stopped the whole area being reclaimed by the sea).

After 5 months I also finally saw the sun set over the Atlantic, instead of it just teasing the horizon and resuming its ascent.

Spain beckons. The architecture is changing, donuts have been cast aside for churros, and in three more rides (hopefully) I will say au revoir to France and begin the climb up to the Spanish Plata and the final leg of this adventure.

For now, it’s time to stretch my legs, get some lunch and enjoy a lazy afternoon. The empty chair across the table is the low point of the resumed ride. But not too long now!