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day 36 Covadonga

all seasons in one day

distance: 131km
Total ascent: 1166m
Hours in the saddle: 5hrs 45
Terrain: one up, and then down, until a sadistic blip that caught me by surprise.

Well today on the bike was pretty dire. It was always going to be after yesterday then add on very little sleep last night. In theory the route was straight forward, one up and then plain sailing home, only concern being the 80miles. But as all things in life, things don't quite work out that way.

It started off fine..pottered along, all psyched up for the climb. Michelin map said it was steep...never trust a Michelin map. It was fine. Quite a nice ride..nice scenery..strangely green mountains, and I don't mean grass..the rock itself was green.
Things started to go a bit funny when I saw a cyclist coming down the mountain..I waved and he shouted and pointed back up the hill. Now there is nothing worse than something like that. I had no idea what he had said..was there an avalanche? Was the road closed? Was there bad weather? Or was he just saying 'wow that's am awesome climb up there. Have fun on it. Cheerio!!'? Oh for a babel fish....

Running through all these options however did pass the time, and watching a random few cars go up and down, I figured it must be the weather..I could see some funny clouds near where the Puerto was. And I was right..I just wasn't right in quite what the weather was. Dense dense wet misty fog. And cold too. I put my layers on and my lights..and crept down the mountain. I don't think I have ever descended so slowly. The mist was so mad..you could see it crawling up the road..so creepy. More so as all the turns were to the left so all I could see to my right was the edge of the road then just white. I had to stop about 4 or 5 times as I was so cold I was shaking and shivering like mad. It was horrible. After what seemed like hours I came out of the mist but there was still no sun and I was still descending so there was no way to get warm. Hot chocolate stop was my answer.. And just after Potes I found a cafe for coffee and a bocadillo. Two and a half hours to do about 40 km...this was not going to plan...

Things were slightly better after food..it was a slight downhill through the gorge valleys to Panes, which went fast enough. Then west at Panes to Covadonga. As soon as I turned I couldn't help but feel I was going in the wrong direction. The road was right, and where it was going was right, it just didn't feel it. Add to that a headwind and an upward tilt, and you have the longest 50kms I have ever known. It was horrendous. I was so tired, mentally and physically.. It was meant to be an easish day yet it seems the powers that be were conspiring against me. 'I met tired, and he bade me stay a while, and I did. He took my hand and led me to the other side of his domain and pushed me off.' Though funnily enough going beyond tired was more manageable.

Finally I made it to Covadonga. I can't tell you the relief. Nor the disappointment, as there was no way in hell that I was going to be able to make it up the meesly 10km up to the lakes..the sole reason I came here. Added to that no WiFi at the hotel..what on earth was I going to do?! Cleaned up I headed out just to see what was what for dinner later. My hostal is just out of town so I wandered along the road toward the centre. I caught sight of a church on a hill..and that got my attention and decided to head via a maze of off road paths up there.

Getting closer to the church, going up some steps in the park..it all started to get surreal..I heard chanting echoing about..and then the church bell started going. I climb the last few steps and my jaw dropped..I knew I was heading for the big church, what I didn't know was that there was also a small church in the side of the cliff and that was where the chanting was coming from! I was agog..I had no idea..Covadonga is apparently a sanctuary, the huge church, and a small church in the cliff which can be reached by a small tunnel. Absolutely amazing. I need to remember to do my research more! This is way better than lakes...see one lake see em all right??!! No..I will see them one day, just not today.

So I feel I lacking today in scenery descriptions of the awesome Pico's, but it mostly passed me by..literally. The low cloud hid the mountains so limiting what I could actually see anyway. Disappointing in that way..but a good thing too as I don't think I would have seen the churches and Covadonga otherwise. Silver lining and all that.

I am not sure about my plans for tomorrow now..the weather and my tiredness puts a little spanner in the works...several options to choose from, I just need to loiter by this posh hotel and use it for its WiFi for a little longer to work out which...

Posted by louisebenn 10:11 Archived in Spain

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