Saturday, September 15, 2012

Length of Spain Ride Day 1 - Ribadesella to Riaño

A great ride today, although it’s probably the toughest day of the tour. Bright sunshine in Green Spain was a great relief (it’s not called Green Spain for nothing - it rains quite a bit here compared to the rest of Spain). Which followed with superb riding conditions for the whole day – a little hot at times on the climbs but we could not have hoped for better. And there was a breakaway group of two at the front for the whole day!

After the traditional Spanish Tostada in the local Ribadesella café with Alex, our new buddy and support vehicle driver, we headed to the beach for the Length of Spain ride kick off photos with the Atlantic glistening in the background, then we were off to a slow start – cleat issues for me for the first few KM (the clips which attach your feet to the pedals). Great scenery was with us all day, and in the first few km a buzzard dramatically swept down and got its breakfast at the side of the road just by us.

Then onwards past all the kayakers to the popular tourist town of Cangas de Onis. Handy hint for anyone doing this route is, as you enter the town there is a stunning Roman bridge on your right. Enjoy the sight, but don’t let it take your mind of the route, especially if another cyclist has the audacity to overtake you. Otherwise you may miss the turning to Riaño and then you will probably end up doing and extra 12k uphill up the wrong road. If you do this, stop and ask the old lady if this is the road to Riaño, she is very helpful.

Once on the road to Riaño progress was good, quicky re-overtaking the cyclist who’s ambition outweighed his talent! (note to us - it’s not a race!). We stopped to enjoy the scenery at a pretty bridge on the climb, and soon after two mini buses pulled up. And out jumped a group of about 15 girls from Madrid on a hen night, who fancied a spot of bridge jumping. Probably a 12m jump into the cool river below. Great fun. They spoke far better English than we imagined, when one of the girls quickly answered Iain’s question to me of “Whats the Spanish for ‘what could possibly go wrong’?”.

Onwards and upwards and the going got tougher. The banter between Iain and I got less, and sensing he was probably enjoying the amazing scenery and needed time to find himself I politely dropped back, during the tough climb. Lunch was taken at in Oseja de Sajambre and we watched the MotoGP qualifying, and then onwards and up and up and upwards to the peak of the Puerto de el Pontón at 1280m. Then a nice and welcome downhill thrash toward Riaño.

Riaño was chosen as a stopover due to its great location on the lakes – looks like it has been a dry summer here in Green Spain – jumping from the bridge here now would be a very bad idea! Not a lot of lake!

And then after 110km and 1779m in climbs we arrived at the Hotel Presa, and time for a welcome après bike! Great day in great weather. What a superb start.

Heres a great resource for cycling activities in Spain. A great country in which to enjoy a great sport - the mountain and road biking are superb!

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