Last night finished really well considering the disappointment of getting lost. La Puebela was a little village with the hotel in a tiny square. I had a couple of recovery drinks and then headed upstairs to relax. I wrote up yesterday’s story and then when back downstairs to eat. When I walked into the square you’d have thought the whole village was out. It was packed! It later transpired that all they were celebrating was Thursday night. They do it every week apparently.
I stood at the bar minding my own business when I suddenly realised that the people next to me were speaking English which was surprising as it was a small Spanish village (sorry – Basque village) and earlier that day I couldn’t find any one who did. The lady was in her 60’s the man slightly younger. It transpired that the lady had been in Spain for about 40 years but was originally from Manchester. She’d taught English in Vitoria, met her English husband there and raised her family in La Puebela. Her husband had unfortunately passed away from colon cancer.
The chap she was with was one of her husbands pupils and was born in London to Spanish parents. He’d returned to Spain and served as a para in the Spanish army before returning to the UK to serve in the British army. We had a fun evening that was a later one than planned. I was up ready to leave at 9 but not before 2 slices of potato tortilla – which is just fantastic.
After the navigation trouble yesterday i decided to stick with the Garmin. It routed me out of the village, over a really picturesque river and into open agricultural countryside. La Puebela was surrounded by hills but the roads were great, quiet and no cars. I was soon heading up one of the steepest roads that I have ever ridden. The angle of ascent finished of one of the panniers that popped out one of the metal supporting plates. After the steep “up” came the quick descent towards Miranda de Ebro – a big town that I was intending to stop in. I was glad I didn’t.
I routed through the town and out to the hills at the other side. It went up, up and up again. It seemed to go on for ever. It was desolate – almost desert like. This went on for ages. All that was around was recently harvested fields with combines working In the distance. All the ascents made slow progress. More villages came and went none of which had a taberna. I pressed on – up and down dead straight roads. For the first time on this trip I seriously thought that I would run out of water so took to taking sips rather than the required gulps. It was hot too – the Garmin showed 98 at one point. The sweat flowed out of me (pissed out of me would be a more accurate description). Eventually I came across a village and managed to get directions from a woman in the street to a bar. At first it looked closed but was open with the typical sole customer
No English was spoken by them both (the owner and customer) but we managed to have a good chat albeit repetitive! They suggested that my route needed to change so I followed their advice and went straight for what seemed like 10 miles. It was like the main image on my website. Me, a straight road, hills in the back ground and nothing else. The owner and his customer kept saying national and velodade or something similar which I understood to be ride the cycle path at the side of the national route. It’s ok and quicker. They kept indicating that it was 30km shorter writing on the bar In the rose Rioja that they were drinking. You’ll be pleased and surprised to hear that I declined their offer of a glass (Previously I’ve never said “no” to a glass of vino). Strangely I was in the Rioja region but saw no vines growing.
The N120 was quiet initially but the further I travelled the busier if got – with freight. Big rumbling juggernauts every so often that were quite off putting. The lady I the bar last night had warned that the Spanish lorry drivers didn’t like using the toll roads. The Garmin hated my decision to ignore it. It kept telling me to do a u turn. At its worst it wanted to route me 119kms to do the remaining 20k into Burgos. To be fair the Garmin was right. The route was quicker in distance but punishing in terms of climbing. It was a 6% climb for 5km. At its height it was 1150 m which was tough especially with a Spanish lorry up your arse. I daren’t let my hands leave the bars to show them what I thought. Any cyclist reading this for info should not ride the N120. Do the extra miles and be safe.
I was committed though. Despite what the nice man in the bike shop in Besasain told me there was no alternative on this one so I pushed on to a sensible exit. I kept looking for road kill but there was none. This kept me focused but it occurred to me after that the lorries may have killed all the wild life!!
I opted for a 18 km quite finish instead of the remaining 11km on the N120. The detour took me through a forest which I concluded must have been the dogging capital of Burgos. Numerous cars of sheepish looking single blokes without dogs. All very odd but before long I was at my hotel. It’s surprising how you get an energy boost when you know you are close to “home” and a rewarding beer.
Lesson of today is that the Garmin will find safe cycling routes. If it looks too challenging then it’s “user error”. The user should have shortened the distance.
That said if was a good day finished off by a walk into Burgos. The bars are a buzz with people people drinking and eating pintxos which may now be called tapas as I’m out of the Basque Country now. I have to say that the roads aren’t as good as France but I love the Spanish food and the way they do it – really fantastic. Palencia tomorrow. 75 miles or so. Whatever the Garmin says – I’m doing. A good day following the disappointment of yesterday.