Last day going north!
Hours in the saddle: 5hrs 23min
Terrain: undulating then a good climb and descent to finish.
Well today has to be one of the most amazing days, scenery wise, on the road. To be honest I was a little nervous/excited about today. It is the last day going north plus it is the 'warm up' for the next few days. So I woke very early eager to get it going, not really sure what to expect. I had of course looked at the maps and the elevations but everything seemed to leave my mind so quite soon in I realised I had no idea of what was coming.
It was quickly apparently that zoning out wasn't going to be an option.. I soon had snowy mountains in the approaching distance to keep my attention. The road came to the Rio Luna, and I would follow this river along the side of its valley until a dam formed the embalse de Luna. First reaction was that the dam was quite impressive..second that I really wouldn't want to be any of the people loving directly under it. But beyond that were fantastic views of the bright blue water and the snowy mountains behind it.
At the end of the embalse I had a pitstop, and then turned off the main road up toward the Puerto de Ventana. The surroundings had a very alpine feel to it. Very rural too..my first encounter with cows in the road, a little nerve wracking as they had huge horns and were quite confidently taking up the whole of the road. The farmer didn't seem concerned though so I slowly passed on by. However this was not cow country, oh no, it was horse country. Each field was with horse, and each horse with foal. Ok ok, slight exaggeration but there were a lot of horses! None doing much apart from making new horses and shitting on the road it seemed. I even came a cross a guy taking his horse for a walk on a lead..a herd of about 6 other horses and 5 foals following suit, none being led but all keeping up and following closely.
Further up the there was very little civilisation, just a road cutting through the mountain. It was beautiful and surprisingly colourful...the misty grey of the rock, the different shades of green of the grass and heather, from bright green lower down to brown/almost black near the top. And intermixed were the purple and orange of the heather and wild flowers. These were all backed by the looming snowy mountains behind. The views from the peak from both sides were fantastic.
The puerto also marked the move into Asturias. It also marked the start of a hair raising descent... White lines? Naaah. Barriers on the edge of the road before the drop?? Who needs those?! Smooth roads? Pot holes provide a much more exciting ride..especially when you can't see them in the dappled shade of the trees! I breathed a huge sigh of relief when that part of then descent finally ended. I then found myself heading down a swooping road through a rocky gorge, with the mountains looming high and steep above me. Now we're talking! And then suddenly it was like being spat out the other side into the greenest valley..it was like those films where you go through a rocky hole and emerge into a hidden prehistoric world of lush green and funny animals. Weirdly just after thinking that, there was a prehistoric museum just off the main road, so I guess I was not the only one with that thought. Then it was gone and I was back speeding through another gorge..
Parallel to the road was a walking/cycling path..the Senda Del Oso (Path of the Bear)..a set of paths in the area taking you through tunnels and under overhangs following the river. It used to be an old mine track so it has an easy gradient and further up the road from here will take you past some rescued bears. Apparently you also have more of a chance seeing wild ones too..though is that really a selling point??! But it looked amazing, and have noted that down as something to come back and do.
One worrying point for me, was that I noticed that my elevation was down to 200 odd meters, the lowest I have been for a week or so..mostly I have been at the 1000m mark. While in itself it is not a bad thing, it does mean that any Puerto will be a bigger climb from here ..but then that's all part of the fun..or so I keep telling myself!
Home for tonight is Proaza. Its not very big but it has a lot of restaurants for its size! I tried a place down the road, that I had heard had a nice terrace overlooking the river rather than the road, as most. It was good!!! Probably the most healthy food I have had so far- Chickpea, spinach and salted cod stew..an Asturian specialty. And god there was a lot of it! They had rice pudding too so that was a must. But was absolutely stuffed after, I had to come back for a sleep! Still not feeling completely awake so might finish my hot chocolate and head back to bed. The next few days are going to be toughies... it will need a change of mindset too, as it will be more about the journey than the place I am going. Time to go East to the Pico's de Europa!