Friday, August 9, 2013

Cantabria or Oregon?

Collado de Hoz. Photo courtesy of Pablo Moreno

There was something so familiar about Cantabria. Green hills with tall mountains in the background, streams and rivers flowing all around and hiking paths galore! If it hadn’t been for the occasional “cocidos de muntaña” and “tortillas de patatas rellenos”, I would have thought I were in Oregon!

After the hectic schedule of the Tour de France and the bitter hospitality in France, being in the north of Spain was paradise! With a later ride start time, we could sleep in and sometimes we finished the rides so early, we had the afternoon free for sight seeing. The roads were empty except for all the livestock, amphibians’ crossings, and the sporadic “abuelos” out for their daily exercise (why they choose to walk on the road when there are loads of trails, I don not know!). With the Picos de Europe always by our sides we rode from Villacarriedo to Pola de Leña, with only one van hour and a half van transfer. Some of the most picturesque climbs included Puertos de Lunada, Lagos Covadonga, Collado de Hoz, and the painful and grueling climb up the Alto de Anglirú (a constantly climb with an average slope of 12,5%, although some sections were as steep at 24%0).

There's a first time for every thing and on the Trans Cantabria there were a lot of first time experiences. With sweaty palms, for the first time, I had to drive the sag van, not to mention on the Anglirú- yes, manual shifting! It was also the first time I stayed in "Paradores", both in Fuentes De and Cangas de Onís, and the first time I double-fisted beer and an ice cream! It was the first time I heard someone refer to a "Spanish Tortilla" as a potato quiche after their first bite, and the first time I had to enforce the "no beer stop" with the B Group unless our hotel was within 5 km! Obviously it wasn't the first time I had women clients, but I must say I had excellent female companionship on the roads during the trip! What good times we had on the Trans Cantabria! 
The B group with ride leaders Martin and Melissa-another climb! Photo courtesy of Pablo Moreno

Cantabria is a cycling paradise and definitely a place to return to explore even more! Now it's off to the Alps-the mythical climbs await!

The Picos de Europe surrounded us most of the time.

When you can't choose between an ice cream and a beer......

Photo courtesy of Pablo Moreno

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