Santander to Castro-Urdiales. Spain

Nice beach! Big ridge - it's top is over 1500 ft!

A first for me, bicycle speed limit signs on a highway!
I saw quite a few of these this afternoon and the all said 60

Another (!) short day - 58 miles with 2750 feet of climbing. This was the day I decided to take the train to Bilbao in order to give my knee some more recovery time and then, when I checked at the train station, found that the train didn't run till Tuesday and today was Sunday. Oh well, Sundays are good days to ride out of cities, and the weather was great and there was little wind, so it looked like a good day to ride, sore knee or not.

Heading out of Santander

I really enjoyed my two nights at Picos de Europa. In a little over 36 hours, I managed to get 24 hours of, really needed, sleep. I also at all my meals at the Picos de Europa cafeteria, and enjoyed all of them. It is a good, friendly, and fun, place to be. My total food expenditure - two light supper, two simple breakfasts and one big lunch - was about 20 E, only a little more than I paid for a lousy lunch today. My room cost, discounted 25% for being on bicycle or foot, was 63 E for two mights, including 7% tax. Such a deal for such a nice place to stay.

I found myself on another Camino route

I rode out of Santader on the Autovia, because it was the only way I knew to head for Bilbao. It was not bad riding, but a bit dangerous at exits and entrances. I had to leave it at Boo when it becomes autopista. Looking at my map, it seemed I could find e a way to keep on roads paralleling the autoroute until the reached N 634, the non autroute road to Bilbao. Unfortunately, Bo was a nightmare of steep one way roads, and what I eventually found was a way to Guarnizo, which is south, not east, of Boo. OK, so I tried to get from Guarizo back to the road parallel to the autoroute. I blew than one too, and found my self at a road, CA 142, which was actually on my map. Cool! I headed down that road - which was very popular with Sunday bicyclists.

Such a nice road!

With pretty scenery

It was a great ride - I could see why there were so many bicyclists on it - but there was something wrong. I wasn't headed into the wind and, on this tour, that has alway meant I'm going in the wrong direction! I looked at my map again and saw that, although I was headed south instead of east, I would get to the right road in about 6 miles. Ca 142 was the best gentle riding I'd done on this tour, and that was just what my knee needed. I didn't turn around.

Finally on N 634, 100 km to Bilbao

Things went smoothly: I found 643, turned east and immediately knew I was going in the right direction - I had a headwind. Riding was pretty good, if a little slower than it had been heading south, and it looked like I might be able to make Bilbao today. My knee was doing OK and, as long as the wind didn't get stronger or the hills steeper, it would continue to do OK. The only problem I had had was with my LZ2. The first pictures I took with today were discolored and out of focus. It would not be a major loss to me on tour as long as I could continue to use it to process images from my Pentax, so I cranked on down he road, not worrying about it.

Because it was Sunday, I had fewer choices of restaurant. I decided on one in Hoznayo that was a bit fancy, but had a lot of customers. My two course meal, with beer and cafe, cost 18 E and both courses were lousy. I've had much better meals for 5 to 7 E on this tour. Some days you win, some days you lose. Lunch was a loss today.

Just after lunch, N 634 parallels A 8

Riding was not flat, but the climbing was relatively gently. The road climbed to about 400 feet and then descended towards the sea.

An old church at the top of the long climb
This is the kind of thing that reminds me I'm in Spain

Looking towards the ocean shortly after the church

It was a nice long descent, except for the headwind which meant I sometimes had to pedal downhill! When it ended, at sea level, the road stayed pretty flat - under 100 feet - for good while. The wind was more of a problem now. It was so cold that I had button up and tuck in my shirt and put a second kneewarmer on my bad knee which had started to ache from the cold.

Then I rode into Laredo. Nice flat riding, but what was all that stuff doing up there on that hill? Damn, but that concrete clinder thing is ugly!

Coming into Laredo

Looking back, climbing out of Laredo

Oh, it seems that the only way out of Laredo to the east is a 450 foot vertical, steep climb. I was in my lowest gear 20/32 or about 17" - for most of the climb. My knee didn't like this climb but, because it wasn't into the wind, it really was much easier than some of the climbing I had to do a few days ago.

Looking at Laredo's bay

The view of the bay was nice for the first part of the climb, then the road went behind hill, got near the autoroute, and continued to climb for several hundred more feet vertical.

Looking at the mountains east of Laredo

The view at the top of that climb, and on the steep descent into the next valley, was quite nice. From the high point of the climb out of Laredo, I could look down on the autoroute more than 100 feet below.

Looking south

Then I got to do another 400+ foot climb out of the next valley. That climb was more interesting than the climb out of Laredo because the road switched back on itself and then went through a gap in that, much higher, ridge, that wasn't visible from the start of the climb. There were lots of high powered motorcyclist playing on that climb!

My knee was getting tired of these steep climbs, and, fortunately, there were only two. The next descent was a thriller - I was able to keep ahead of cars through the curves at 35 mph or so, but only by using all my lane - and led down almost to sea level. The autoroute stayed up higher and went over a viaduct over N 634 and through a couple of tunnels before coming down to near sea level a mile or two further on. There is a beautiful beach and a major recreational area where where N 634 comes down to the ocean.

Going under the Viaduct

You can see the two lanes of the autoroute going into two tunnels up there

Looking out at the ocean just after the pretty beach

The road was relatively flat and the wind was not a problem as I cranked along after the beach and recreational area. The next major urban area, Castro-Udialles was a bit of a pain because they had cut up, and poorly repaved, the part of the main street I was forced to ride on when there was traffic. This went on for quite a while, making me, once again, very thankful for my suspension seat post. I had decided, after doing those climbs really slowed things down and stressed my knee, to stop for the night in this area, but saw no where to stay until near the eastern edge of his long town. I'm staying a at a three star hostal with rates comparable to my two star hotel in Santander, but without the discount. I did meet a Camino couple - French, who started walking from Barcelona to Santiago, but had some serious issues in the mountains and took a train to Bliboa. They walked from there today. I'll ride from here to there tomorrow morning to the Guggenheim Museum .

Looking out my window at the ocean

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