Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Day 2 - Pamplona to Estella

Big toenail gone white in front right corner. Long toe oddly painful with small callous. Knees a little tweaky from off centre cycling action but fine really. Hips feel slightly loose. Butt is saddle sore. Lower back aches and my arms seemed OK, but when I spun them about to celebrate I realised my left shoulder hurts – a lot. Curious muscle pain across top of back and blister on hand. As I laughed about this I realised the muscle down the left side of my back seems to have pulled.

I slept like a baby despite noise of people in the main square which is undergoing major reconstruction. We walked 20 minutes to the bike repair shop, but it had closed down.

Back at the hotel I started work with my cycle repair kit but didn’t spend long. People from all over came to help, each taking part of the bike. On old woman came up and prayed over the bike.

So now we’re having a glass of wine in the square writing postcards. We got an extra stamp from Pamplona Cathedral as I was excessively grumpy and promised Lou that I’d be less of a pain in the ass if we did that before fixing the bike.

The cycling out of Pamplona was hard. There were windmills all along the top of the mountain, and we saw them up close and personal. It was a 14km ride and some of it was very, very steep. Add to that my thermometer reading of 115°F and you get very tired and thirsty.

We reached Alto Perudo and stood under the bridge on a busy A-road cooling off, then hurtled down the hill. We were even cycling up hill at 35mph. I got something of a wobble on as the wind hit my panniers, but the brakes were of limited use. I could hear and smell them at work but didn’t notice any effect. We’ve just stopped at Legarda, but the bar is closed.

A series of steady climbs out from here with corresponding descents. Made it past a fancy hotel where there was a statue of Santiago which someone had added a red Basque type bandana to. Into Puente de Reina for a rest and to pick up water and snacks.

We tried to ask a French chap where he bought his bag of groceries from. He gave directions but appeared to say that we couldn’t take our bikes down to the store because of the bulls in the street. I assumed it was a bizarre translation error, but no, it was a running of the bulls, with a small square converted into a makeshift bullring. People threw themselves into the ring only to leap back out as the bull came at them. We cycled on out, up and down more and more hills. A car came whizzing past whilst we were cycling at about 30mph and it hit a bird, sending it flying at my face. Lou found it hilarious as she could only see my head with feathers flying everywhere.

Just as we reached three kilometres outside Estella Lou got a flat. We knew the drill – we took the panniers off Lou’s bike and put them onto mine and walked the 3km uphill to the outskirts of Estella. At a Repsol station we stopped and set about fixing the wheel. We had hoped to get some assistance as I’d been fighting off helpers in Pamplona, but aside from a chap who made what we guessed were lewd remarks, nothing. However, we managed it with some brute force and our tool kits.

Note to self: Must steal a spoon.

Cycled into Estella and found the alburgue and got our stamp. They had room available and looked really nice, but Lou was having none of it. A long cycle through town, and we didn’t so much as see a hotel. As I was losing hope we found a great hotel with a garage for the bikes and once again the best food ever. Lou wanted steak, but was ready to settle for salmon as I’d forgotten the phrase book. As she was so upset I really thought it was important to get her the dinner she wanted. With some comedy Spanish – Carne Torro – and a mime of a bull we got a steak sandwich. I had a glass of rosada to celebrate.

Our request for “dos San Miguel Grande” caused much amusement, but they were well needed. We watched some absurd Spanish game shows including a version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, very strange. Lou was in tears when we arrived at the hotel and just wanted a bath, but I prescribed the beer and food and it seemed to have a temporary uplifting effect. A glass of Rioja put me in a much better mood.

Forward to Estella to Logrono
Back to SJJP to Pamplona


Space Whisperer said...

please could you tell me how may KM you travelled each day. How fit were you. I have a bike I rode 2 years ago. I am small framed and strong but somehow find bike riding difficult.

GollyGumDrops said...

The mileage varied quite a bit, mostly because we weren't fit. We'd ridden lot in the spring to build up some bike craft and loose weight, but essentially we were two chubby women on bikes and one of us smoked. The smoking did tell, particularly on the higher hills where lung function matters.