Friday, 22nd September, 2017 St. Jean Pied de Port – Pamplona 82 km (Total 1294 km)
It was raining as I started to climb the Pyrenees out of Saint Jean Pied de Port. I was really pleased with the poncho investment I’d made at Decathlon, Marmande on the 18th, September. I’ve decided that it’s a must have from now on.
I crossed the border into Spain just before noon and climbed slowly to the summit at 1057m – Puerto de Ibañeta. Low cloud so no spectacular views I’m afraid.
I asked Ingor, a mergers and acquisitions consultant from Russia, to take my photograph just so that you don’t think that this is just a big yarn that I’m making up!
And, after such a gruelling climb, I find it hard to believe that the day ended with a credible 82km and me reaching Pamplona which had been my target.
Saturday, 23rd September, 2017 Pamplona – Estella-Lizarra 54 km (Totally al 1348 km)
A scorching hot day with relentless climbs and a thororoughly miserable 54km achieved. I was hoping to reach Logroño but no way! Arid countryside, km after km, cycling alongside the noisy Autovia, El camino? Why bother! There are lots of quieter and prettier places to go and cycle your bike! But, this is not what it’s about …
Sunday, 24th September, 2017 Estella – Logroño 49 km (Total 1397 km)
Sunday, a day of rest so only 49 km today. That’s my excuse!
Still very hot weather and some fierce climbs thad to be put in. But, I’m no longer on my own. I have met a couple from Denver, Neil and Lesley who are riding a tandem, and who are also feeling the pain. Their company tonight over an evening meal in Logroño was most welcome.
Monday, 25th September, 2017 Logroño – Saint Domingo de la Calzada 60 km (Total 1458 km)
Finding a camino cycle route out of the city of Logroño proved impossible for me and, after cycling illegally for a kilometer or so on an Autovia (not for the first time I should add) I resorted to taking the pedestrian peregrino footpath. This was not something that I wanted to be doing with a road bike, for fear of punctures, but thankfully the N120 was soon picked up and I was on a decent road surface again.
The cloud was broken and there’s been a little cooling breeze so it’s been a nicer day for cycling. My plan to reach Burgos however, has not been achieved. In my naivety, I had thought that after climbing to the dizzy heights of the Ibanêta Pass, in the Pyrenees at 1057 m, it would all be, quite literally, downhill. Not so. I reached Saint Domingo at 1600 hrs and was contemplating whether or not to have a massive push for Burgos (70 km) and then I read that I’d have to climb to 1150 m at Puerto de la Pedraja en route.
It was a no brainer. Hot bath, large Ricard, and menu peregrino won hands down!
Tuesday, 26th September, 2017 Saint Domingo de la Calzada – Burgos 73 km (Total 1531 km)
As a Chartered Engineer, I felt that I had a little affinity with Saint Domingo de la Calzada, who is the Patron Saint of Civil and Port Engineers, so I decided to visit his Cathedral. In particular, I wanted to learn about the miracle of the hen and the rooster which I can recount at another time.
But, enough of the sightseeing. When you’re cycle touring you just have to get on your bike and cycle – that’s what it’s all about otherwise you’d just not get anywhere! I’ve managed 73 km today, with a big climb for me to the top of Puerto de la Pedraja. The maths is easy to work out. It’s a straight climb for 3 km at 6% gradient so 180 metres or so vertical ascent. Before the climb the chain came off on the crank derailier. This was the third time that this had happened during this trip and so I set about adjusting the derailier mechanism to try to make sure that it did not happen again, especially before and during such a long ascent as this. Once adjusted and I felt happy with the gear changes, I set off, onwards and upwards!
For cyclists, I would say that this section of el camino de santiago de compostela, the national road route N120, is absolutely horrendous because of the very large amount of lorry traffic which thunders by continuously at close quarters.
Cycling helmet on, high visibility waistcoat and gloves all secured, against the odds Burgos is reached.
Wednesday, 27th September, 2017 Burgos – Carrión de los Condes 92 km (Total 1623 km)
I had wanted a rest day in Burgos but, unable to secure my room for another night I was forced to pack up and set off. As always, it’s a trial to find the way out of large cities on a bike so valuable time was wasted before I could get my head down and get into any sort of zone! I achieved a credible 92 km and I’m happy with that given the blistering heat and headwind.
In complete contrast to the very high lorry traffic density east of Burgos, travelling west on the national route N120, there is hardly a lorry or car to be seen for mile after mile. This part of the Camino, from Burgos to León, is referred to as the Meseta.
Thursday, 28th September, 2017 Rest Day Carrión de los Condes
I woke this morning with diarrhoea and, as I didn’t get my rest day in Burgos yesterday as planned, I asked at reception if I could stay another night. Initially the answer was no but, as I came to load my bike later on in the morning whilst carrying my panniers through the reception area, the helpful manageress confirmed that I could indeed keep my room just for one more night. The hotel used to be a Monastery and it was a great place to stop over.
Friday, 29th September, 2017 Carrión de los Condes – La Virgen del Camino 120 km (Total 1743 km)
A good push today of 120 km but it’s the end of the relatively flat roads of the Meseta. I can see the Montes de León rising up ahead of me as I enter the city and I know there are going to be a couple of hard days cycling ahead of me.
Saturday, 30th September, 2017 La Virgen del Camino – Cacabelos 114 km (Total 1856 km) The highest climb of the camino – 1517 m.
What a terrific day! 114 km achieved with the highest climb of the camino. I’m well pleased with that for a stage! The views at the top – awesome! No iPhone pic can do justice I’m afraid – you’ve just got to be here!
Sunday, 1st October, 2017 Cacabelos – Portomarin 112 km (Total 1978 km)
A really tough push today which I’m well pleased with, climbing to 1300m at Alto de Cebreiro. It was steep ascents and descents all day long. Santiago is 100 km away and the route is not without its difficulties but all being well, I hope to reach Santiago Cathedral by tomorrow (Monday) tea time.
Monday, 2nd October, 2017 Portomarin – Santiago de Compostela 100 km (Total 2069 km)
This last 100 km push to Santiago was gruelling. The previous two days had seen spectacular climbs and this very last leg was no less demanding in that steep ascents and descents continued until the very last 100 yards to the Cathedral. My legs had struggled on some of the climbs and, with them feeling like jelly, I resorted to walking on many occasions. The N-547, which makes up for the majority of this last stage was very busy with endless lorries and fast cars and, it was hot! Oh, and endless peregrinos too!
I passed not one, not ten, not one hundred but possibly 1000 or more Peregrinos walking into Santiago that day. I met three other cyclists. As a cyclist, you are in the minority. You will get no thanks for attepting to cycle the Peregrino footpath, on a mountain bike, as some start off attempting!
Tuesday, 3rd October, 2017 Rest day in Santiago
Here I am! Santiago!
Rushed to evening mass and, joy of joys, saw six monks swinging a huge incense burner the length of the Cathedral, controlling it’s trajectory by pulling in unison on an arrangement of ropes. Wow! What a really whacky thing to see going on in a Cathedral and, no doubt, what a great tourist attaction witnessed by hundreds in the congregation that day.
Now go to the menu bar, Santiago soithbound.