6/9/16: last day before the real climbing starts again

Just to finish up yesterday.  I forgot this bit of evidence that everyone who is anyone does the Camino through León.


I don’t know why that amused me so much, but it did. Back next to the Gaudi was this:


It marked a meeting place of the youth of León and a bike seemed to be an important marker amongst some of them though not in this shot.


“Ride or die” seemed a bit extreme to me but it certainly caught something for me, including the fear that the heat and the riding would be the death of me (not literally, I’m not that daft).  But the day finished on another meal with a view.


And there was all of 30m to walk to the hotel!

I got off by 08.15 moderately alarmed by the weather forecast which was a yellow heat warning threatening 38°C and risk of fires.  Elvis had gotten ahead of me and was doing some painting:


Perhaps, in my “self-portrait with” theme, that’s “self-portrait with Elvis, or is it Richard”!

I was aiming to make it to Astorga and then quit and have lots of time to catch up on this site.  I belted off 50km to Astorga by 10.53 and Elvis was pretty much the only time I stopped. Coming into Astorga involved having to go up and over this railway bridge.  I don’t know what went wrong with these ‘photos (I do actually, it was too bright to see what the ‘phone was seeing).  There were three layers of those ramps.  Bizarre!


By then it was hot: even I moved out of sun into the shade while rewarding myself with a late breakfast.  I had discovered that there was another Gaudi there: the Bishop’s Palace and it was covered with scaffolding when I arrived but I had a word with the blokes, said I’d have breakfast and see the Cathedral and could they pull it all down and they did wonders but it wasn’t quite all gone by the time I finished sadly.


That’s the Cathedral in the background.  This isn’t Gaudi turkey, in fact I think it’s quite good but way off his best.  Apparently he drew the plans without visiting, based on ‘photos he was sent of the site as he was so overcommitted back in Catalunya.  He was commissioned by the new bishop who was a personal friend as Gaudi had done an altar for him previously.  The cathedral is late Gothic going through to high Baroque and so I was braced to hate it.  I didn’t and think it’s superb, though I still think the Baroque was a mistake.  ‘Photos of that another time and perhaps something about going to listen to Pevsner’s history of art lectures on “Mannerism and the Baroque” as a medical student.  The man almost had me convinced that I loved this stuff and, though I’ve never really loved it as perhaps one could, without that experience I suspect I’d still not like it at all.  As I say, that’s all getting off today’s track though.

This was where I took a big decision: “Just another 20km”!

I found a bike shop. Lovely man fixed gear changer (for now?) while I got cash and a litre of youghourt and a litre of orange juice so I would make 20km.  The youghourt was stowed anatomically and the fruit juice in Toto’s drop tanks and most of the juice and a fair bit of water from the other drop tank went in the next 20km.  I tried to cycle breathing through my nose not my mouth as you could feel the heat sucking moisture out of you and the nose is much better at resisting that than the mouth is!

It was 21km in fact and it was slow.  I booked a room here (brilliant choice by pure luck) so (a) I would have somewhere and not risk having to go further as even villages are thinly spaced here (three in 20km, this the first with more than a couple of hostels) and (b) to force myself to do it.

It was mostly climbing, though mostly gently.  The villages were beautiful  and now we’re up into what I would call maquis or scrubland with little oak trees and a lot of dry earth.  The huge cereal fields are over.

And here I am in Rabanal del Camino and I told myself I wouldn’t go rubbernecking.  However, the village was lovely (that will have to wait too) so off I went with ‘phone in hand after the bat had lifted my spirits.  S I’ve made very little of the progress on the site and blog that I had intended, but I am 20km further and the next climbing phase starts pretty immediately tomorrow.  I think the key will be a really early start as it’s still yellow heat warning and there have been helicopters flying water in sort of upside balloons over us.  I think it really may only be mad dogs and mad men (now that’s a theme I keep postponing) who cycle beyond 12.00 tomorrow unless the altitude I will have gained moderates the heat.  I don’t think so.  Wish me luck.  Even 40km will do I think to get me to Santiago.  See Days which I’ve belatedly updated!

Here are today’s maps and the latest cumulative altitude one.  Height today:






Heart rate:


And here’s the overview:


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6 thoughts on “6/9/16: last day before the real climbing starts again”

  1. A different king! Tempering excessive piety perhaps. I guess these towns and villages are just ordinary places to the locals – groups of youfs, graffiti etc – but they look so beautiful, and with such amazing buildings. Thanks for glimpses of them. Can’t imagine ever having the chance to see them for real. Glad you made such good progress through the heat. Good luck for the next leg.

  2. Ordeal by fire! A lovely day here, temperature rising to 23 this afternoon. You will surely decide we have an excellent climate.Adelante, pilgrim! X MD.

  3. Astorga, of which I’d never heard,occupies miles on Wikipedia. Ride AND die seems to me the danger. I looked up rotulacion: the garagiste must label vehicles. You are exploring territory unknown to most. Spain is a relatively closed chunk of W.Europe.Courage and onward! Amazing! XXMD.

  4. I don’t know why, but I have the feeling that your life is full of such big decisions “just another 20km”! 😉

    1. Oh Blerta, welcome aboard and thanks very, very much for your comments. It’s lovely having this luxury, as you say, having waited to 59, to reduce my big decisions of the day to such things. I wouldn’t swap you for all your challenges but know you’ll facing them well. Very, very best.

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