I took the recommendation from my new friend Hoda, whom I met at the hostel in Aveiro, and changed course slightly to Salamanca, 20 miles south of Zamora, Spain.
A lot has happened during this part of my journey. I’ve inadvertently pitched at a free campsite that I’d assumed was a stealth opportunity (I only realised when I took a closer look around after setting up, hidden away!), slept under a tree with the stars in view and best of all, spent a night under a superb rock shelter. The latter I realised I shared the field with a bull and two cows.
In between all of this I’ll list the goings-on as otherwise this will be one lonnnnng paragraph:
- Extreme descents. ‘What goes up must come down’ is what I repeatedly told myself during the climbs. I didn’t expect them to be so steep, but more of a concern were cobblestones—a cyclists adversary.
- Sandy tracks and a weighted bike don’t mix. I negotiated with physics more than once to keep myself upright at speed—fun, but only in hindsight!
- Almeida; cafe restaurant where upon enquiring the menu, an untrustworthy owner informed me that the food would be €12 without me knowing what it was—I also couldn’t stop focusing on his dodgy eye!
- A sublime gorge that Google Maps said was for driving but was in no way even easy to walk. Due to my route change, and the fact that I’m tired of rubbish tracks, I chose GMaps to try to stick to roads. 3 hours later, I’d dragged the bike down, across and back up the other side.
- I pick what turns out to be the poshest restaurant in one town—spotting the award stickers inside the door only once I was seated—where I’m informed that there’s only fish. Then the guy next to me gets a huge meat dish—exactly what I wanted! I also am served last… hmmm.
- I cross the border (Predator fans?), among many winding valley roads.
- My last run to Salamanca, 60 miles in one day! 😃 It’s amazing the difference in what you can achieve when you have long straight smooth roads. The N-620 ohhhhhh yeeaaahhhhh… I’m so proud!
Now, all of this was over 4 days and 156 miles and there were times when I’d had enough and was so tired but thankfully I kept going and learnt more about the fine balance of taking short rests in the shade, (again) eating more and more frequently too.
A taste of the roads and roads and…
A lovely ride over a small gorge after a particularly long descent on tarmac!
Just loads and loads of the above.
An enormous but beautiful gorge! The climb down and up was not very nice, although it had to be done!
Waking from a night under the stars—check those ‘I’ve slept so well’ eyes!
The rock compound that made a superb home for the evening. Note the snake remains as it had died in the crack—I spotted that by chance.
After 40 miles I stopped at a cafe and decided to finish the other 20 miles to Salamanca. The most miles I’ve ever done, let alone with a loaded bike—I’m so proud!!