There, I’ve admitted it: I cracked, I pushed. In fact, I think I pushed for something like 1km on the climb to O Cebeiro. My increasing accurate guide book had said: “This road is steep and unrelenting for 5km and can be very exposed and daunting in bad weather; which is often the case here.”
What it omits to say is that for more than 5km the gradient is between 8% and 15%. Oh, and you have already climbed steadily on lesser gradients for about two hours before that. So here we have the gradient map.
That long red bit was the “OK, I give in” bit. Don’t be fooled by all that white: we know that the Garmin is not to be trusted on height or gradient. That initial long white was lovely but it was all climbing, albeit very manageably. Suckered me, that did!
Average speed (which is flattering stretches of that):
Yes, there was some lovely descending. And finally, heart rate. Even pushing was damn hard work!
Here’s that early white stuff, yes, the old road does keep crawling up to join the new road you can see there on one of its many bridge sections. I had left as dawn was breaking and only did a short stretch on bike lights today.
This is looking back after the pushing stretch:
The observant amongst you will have noticed that there was no problem about blistering heat any more, in fact, that was a bright break in the cloud and this was the scene at the false summit of O Cebreiro:
Yes, the entire tiny village had been replaced by a street market in fog. (The last and next 5km had visibility down around 100m.) I was relieved that some Spanish TV crew interviewed the lovely Spanish lads in their 20s on mountain bikes, with very little load, and opted not to interview me. (Do I sound envious of them? Damn right: youth, light loads, gearing at least 50% lower than my lowest. I was green with envy, or perhaps it was exhaustion. Please note the highly technical distinction between envy and jealousy: I envied them their attributes and possessions but their relationship with the TV was no object of envy: how stupid can you look, green against the grey background and trying something like “[gasp] No hablo Español [gasp, gasp] lo siento [gasp, gasp, gasp]”)
Actually, about 2km before that, one of the lovely things that have happened on this trip happened at the first coffee bar stop for what had seemed like hours. A group of four English/British speakers, on completely unloaded mountain bikes (oh that green envy thing again!), who had bravely cycled on past me on their lovely low gears as I pushed, and who had stayed ahead of me when I managed to get back on, cheered me into the stop, and were simply lovely in respecting that I had given myself some significant handicaps. It’s hard to convey what that means. If any of them ever reads this: thank you again!
They told me that their (human form) guide had told them there were 2km more to O Cebreiro and I opted to go on. As one said: “If you stop now you might never get back on eh?” and, tempting though the prospect of coffee and changing into cycle leggings and adding a layer to my top was, he was pretty on the nail there. I thought my legs might mutiny, and I paused only long enough to thank them, and rode, OK, that’s an exaggeration, crawled, on; but I wasn’t pushing thanks to that injection of pride or something they’d given me, and I didn’t in the remaining 2km before hitting the bazaar at the top.
Oh, but it wasn’t the top dammit! There was a bit of lovely descent, but a bit gingerly given the visibility, and then several more km, but less killing, of climbing before the true summit.
O Cebreiro was actually the proposed end of day one of the two days from my guide book; two days I was ticking off in one day; so, with only about 32km of 72km done, I went onand there are interesting, and less physically harrowing, tales to tell of that, and ‘photos. However, I’m exhausted and the second day of today (if you see what I mean) will have to wait for another chronological day as this room has a cramped bath and my poor legs deserve it. Sad, as there’s much more to say (and one blog post draft written in a long gap from the cycling) … but that will all have to wait.
With any luck, I’m on target for Compostela in two more days cycling now. That makes two days left over for a round trip to Finisterre and I’d still have one day back in Compostela before I fly home. However, although that’s the guidebook recommended stages from here, i.e. two days in two days, it’s 60km tomorrow, and the authors say “Although the high mountains have been left behind for good, this probably the hardest day’s riding of the whole pilgrimage and should not be taken lightly. There are long stretches with nowhere to rest and a number of long ascents.” I keep reminding myself that today was two of their days.
So here we are:
Good night all!