Day 14 – Palencia to Toro

I ended yesterday’s update with the comment that tomorrow is another day and it certainly was very different today. 

I didn’t sleep well at all. Tossing and turning, thinking about today. I couldn’t have another yesterday. I’d redone my routes to avoid the high plateau that had caused the problems yesterday. There were no wind turbines on the lower ground so I concluded that there couldn’t be the same punishing wind. The penalty for stopping low was an extra 20km’s but I decided that it was a price worth paying. I set my alarm early to get a quick get away. The hotel was noisy and Spanish families coming in at all hours kept waking me up. Every time I woke I replayed in my mind the various killer aspects of Saturday and the brutality of “Wind turbine plateau”.

I left about 9.30 in the end and farted about in the city centre finding the start to the route. Having found the start after a tour of the city I headed out of town. All I can remember about the day before was the arid nature of the plains. Miles and miles of corn fields in a various state of been harvested. It’s golden brown for mile after mile. I’d changed one of the hidden settings on the Garmin to avoid ascents and as a consequence it kept me in the lowlands. 

In the lowlands there was much more going on. Remember it’s a Sunday morning. Blokes setting up for some sort of a race in a river, guys fishing in the irrigation ditches, streams and canals. They don’t fish with rods but a round net on a rope. I have no idea what they were trying to catch. There were a few cyclists out that have me confidence that I’d got the right routes which was in contrast to yesterday when I went hours without seeing a soul. 

I was whizzing along at a decent pace so much so that I didn’t stop for almost 3 hours. I pulled off the route and into Meneses de Campos to find a cafe. The place was deserted. I now have a strategy for sniffing out a bar. 

  1. Find a big enough village
  2. Head in the direction of the church – they all have one 
  3. Next to the church tends to be a square 
  4. In the square there is often a bar

As I passed the church i could hear singing which accounted for the deserted nature of the town. 

It worked again. The magic recovery formula is “grande cafe con leche” and “Kas Naranja” – at least that’s what I ask for. I get them to fill up my bottles with most offering “gelli” which I’ve learnt is ice. I asked for a sandwich – non was the reply. It concerned me that it was Sunday and that I wouldn’t get food anywhere. I paid up and walked out. As I did I saw a woman with a loaf – sort of a French stick but Spanish. I walked out and saw a van – either a baker or bread sellers so I went back in the bar and found him. I bought a loaf for 50 cents strapped to the back of my bike and cracked on. 

The terrain had been so flat for about 50 Kms that you could see where you were heading for miles. Unfortunately there aren’t many tarmaced roads amongst these Great Plains so as a consequence, you end up zig zagging through the flat lands from church tower to church tower. I reckon that for two hours I  could see this square thing high up on top of the plateau. It was that square I thought it was an incinerator plant given the square nature of the building. As I got closer I couldn’t have been more wrong. Perched up on high was an ancient castle. When I got to the sign it said “castle S. XII”. I concluded it must have been old – older than the Captain! ( see picture below).

I headed up the hill into some historical land of numerous castles. It literally was like going back in time with only the existence of power/telephone lines reminding you of current existence. I stopped for lunch. Water and the Spanish stick in the middle of nowhere called Castremonte. 

After the castles came what all the turbines were about – some sort of power centre where they all converged. It was quite odd to see if all tracking to this massive single spot. 

The road surfaces were good today. On the high ground yesterday that were like a patchwork quilt of repairs (imagine riding on the side of selfridges in Birmingham – lots of bumps). The killer today was the straightness and heat. I don’t think one road turned for 16km. The heat haze is quite difficult – I’m sure that’s why the cars drive with their lights on. 

Eventually I could see Toro the routing was strange as I approached the N122. A sign said 6km to Toro yet the Garmin said 20km. To be fair it was doing its job and avoiding main roads. I did a quick survey of the traffic whilst deciding what to do. There was nothing on it. I recalled what Jose said about the busy N roads around San Seb. On a Sunday when he rides them, they were empty – so I went for it. 

Toro reminded me of that IKEA area at Walsall. Lots of industrial sheds and nothing else. Toro will be the same I thought. I made my way through town to the hotel. 

“Passport” said the reception. “Bollocks” I thought. “Beer” I said. She pointed me downstairs to a most amazing patio over looking the Duoro and its lush green pastures either side. First impressions can be deceptive. This one certainly got me. 

What a contrasting 2 days! Tomorrow I head to Fermeselle which is within touching distance of the Portuguese border. Let’s hope it’s another day like today – but perhaps not as hot. I’m burnt to a frazzle – and yes – I have been putting cream on!! 


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