Day 5 - The last hill
17 December 2021
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” ― Jack Kerouac
Shell good. My cold is worse. Cough. Blocked nose.
The last of the big climbs. Until we hit Loroñgo.
The day seems tough on paper. It is a ride of three sections. One challenging.
15 km up and down. Mostly flat. 12 km incline. 10 km downhill out of the mountains.
I am concerned about the incline with my cold.
Breakfast delivered. This place first rate.
We push off at 10.00 am. A few clicks in we are diverted onto the Cami de Sant Jaume. A dedicated cycle and walking track. We spent most of the day on this. Hill climb the exception.
Outstanding riding. No cars. Scenic. Postcard Spain.
The first 15 km went as per program. A fantastic ride.
Problem. The water is from a spring. Every sip my guts churned. Emptied them out. Dry hill climb. Adapt.
We managed the hill climb better. Every 3 km we paused for a drink and a break. We had no water. Break will do. Challenging. Almost no vehicles. The rest system worked well. We conquered.
Summit at 1.30 pm. La Panadella.
Spanish hospitality is patient. Kind. Forgiving. Restaurant Parada is no exception.
We fumble our terrible Spanish. They quickly organise someone to translate.
Yes, we can have lunch.
Yes, you can lock your bikes in our storage shed across the road.
They seat us near the fireplace. Walk us through the menu. There is nothing they won’t do to accommodate our poor Spanish.
Shell has warned me this is not a food blog.
The food was exceptional. Regional. We are in the middle of nowhere. The jamón from the pig farmer we passed on the way. The jamòn is the best I have tasted. Mention this to the waitress.
'Not tourist jamón'.
The place was full by 2.00 pm. No phones. Conversation. No pictures for Instagram.
Here is what we shared-
Crema natural de Verduras (Cream of vegetable soup)
Sopa de Caldo con pasta y pilota (Broth soup with pasta and pilota sausage)
Guisantes salteados con jamón Ibérico (Sauteed peas with Ibérico ham)
Butifarra Negra a la Parilla con judías (Grilled black sausage with beans)
Albóndigas y Sepia guisada con sanfaina (Meatballs and cuttlefish stewed with sanfaina)
I could have settled in for the day. Not to be.
The rest of the journey was downhill on the Cami de Sant Jaume.
If you imagine riding through Spain it looks like this.
Problem. Shell cooled down over lunch. Back in the saddle. Knee pain. She soldiered on but it grew worse. Thankful it was mostly a downhill run.
Around 3.00 pm a fog came in. Thick. Milk. Condensed milk.
The temperature dropped and so did visibility. Ice on my jacket.
We arrived at Cervera. A fort built in 1359. Steep streets. A rabbit warren. With the fog, it had an eerie feel. The Name of The Rose. I am certain if I declare Shell a witch she will be dragged off and burnt promptly.
“When men stop believing in God, it isn't that they then believe in nothing: they believe in everything.” ― Umberto Eco
A great day with the exception of Shell’s knee. Still bothering her now.
Tomorrow is a new day. 25 km. Downhill.