Day thirteen: good things happen to those who wait

Pola de Lena to Gijón

After my miserable Wednesday, wrongs have been put to right and today’s day in the saddle reminded me of why I came out here in the first place.

Fully rested, the ride started with the toughest climb of the trip – 7 or 8km of steep uphill. I worked out that it’s more than three Ditchling Beacons back home. Puffing and sweating, despite my inner conundrum of whether to get off and walk or keep riding – I made it to the top and on the bike the whole way.

The valley was clear – I wasn’t in a cloud and it wasn’t raining. I screamed out loud I was so happy!

The views were worth the wait – whilst I could enjoy them today, had I have tried to ride yesterday, it would have been a different picture.

Sweaty but happy

And then the descent. A descent though just a valley, it felt a world away from the descent two days ago. Tears streamed my face, but this time just from the wind in my eyes. My grin was fixed.

The bending road took me through a series of pretty villages. The lush green fields had cows and horses and I felt like I was in Austria again. Now able to see, the green valley was a striking difference to dry Spain I have come from.

Cycling around Oviedo was a little tedious. Lots of ups and downs but with obstacles such as speed bumps and round@abouts disrupting any rhythm. I stopped for a slice of tortilla and a coffee, knowing I had three (smaller) climbs to get me to my destination.

The rest of the ride was as good as the beginning – ups and downs through the countryside. It was only around the outskirts of Gijón that the scenery got industrial. Following the official Ruta de la Plata (which I have been doing on gps), you take a detour to a Roman hill fort, which in the middle of the fuel station, is a little disappointing.

Road side companions

I finished the ride with a fantastic lunch in the outskirts of Gijón. Half full when I got there, there wasn’t a table free when I left. A genourous bowl of fish soup (best soup of the trip) was followed by the Spanish equivalent of fish and chips – salmon fried in a light batter, potatoes and instead of mushy peas, salad. All topped off with Spanish rice pudding which was gorgeous – spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Yum.

Absolutely stuffed and glad I left the big meal to the end of my ride, I rode the final bit into the city centre, feeling hugely smug.

The sun is now shining, and it’s time to go and explore and have a celebratory beer. Though I have an extra day cycling tomorrow, today marks the end of the Via de la Plata. I made it one one piece and have had a great time on the way. Salud!

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