I rode 100 kilometers yesterday, with very little effort put in on my part. I had a middling climb in the morning, which I hardly noticed, before plunging downhill, with the wind, for just about the rest of the day. For great stretches I was going 20-25 miles per hour without pedalling. Now, some of you might consider this a “freebie,” but you would be wrong. What goes down, must come up. The scenery was lovely, and even I, at this point a bit of a curmudgeonly documentor, had to take some pictures.
Sheep and rough road
A walking meditation circle at the top of the mountain, in case the pilgrims did not get enough exercise!
I rode through a valley between mountains, which grew as the day waxed on.
In the small town of Ventosa, I elected to hole up for the night, sharing a room with four others, nice and cozy. Took some beers at the local café to guaruntee a good night’s sleep (didn’t work so well). I find I like towns in which a table and chairs look natural in the main thoroughfare.
After doing some much needed laundry, I ran into a kindly German man named Olaf, who bought my beer for the night. We ended up having a very enlightening conversation about economy, healthcare, work culture, and global politics. Americans and Germans deal with similar issues, and it was nice to get some insider perspective, which served largely to confirm my suspicions. Yes, we talked a bit about Trump, but I have had no trouble so far.
The conversation took an interesting turn when another pilgrim, a Baby Boomer from the Netherlands, jumped in. I witnessed some tension in reference to WWII, and there was some delicate stepping… very telling to witness. I am still unfamiliar with the long memories and old history that permeates the interactions between Europeans as a whole. Netherlands is also a wealthy country, and he had some Boomerish things to say about certain countries that aren’t, say, pulling their weight. Some things cross over, it seems. He was a fascinating man though, he worked for Paul Bremer when he was the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, one of his bodyguards. Both of the Dutch men I have met are into cycling and have the brightest blue eyes I have ever seen.
The mountains were flaunting their stuff this morning. In person, they seem larger and more jagged. I have been feeling some tenderness in my achilles tendon area, and it flared up a bit on my right leg towards the end of yesterday, ultimately prompting me to stop in Ventosa. I felt fine this morning, but after getting lost trying to get into and through Logrono and climbing a few hills, I could feel something was wrong. This is very concerning, and I opted to stop as soon as possible, incidentally. Of course, I had to climb a few more hills first. I have been spending too many hours on the bike. Even with an easy day yesterday, my legs, in their entirety, are very sore and tender. I parked at a hostel called La Pata de Oca around twelve thirty today and have been lounging about spending too much money on snacks and beer. This building is very photogenic though, filled with large pieces of quite evocative art, the larger of which are originals:
Another fascinating framing configuration in the dorm:
There is a small cathedral here that is unique in medieval architecture for its simple and very Romanesque style. It is quite small, but you will notice that it has a clock of great antiquity; I could not believe it, and am somewhat at a loss to process the childhood joy I experienced when I saw it:
Yes, that is a sundial, which can’t be accurate all-year-round, but it was probably good enough!
This old building I’m staying in boasts a lot of old swords and pieces of armor as well, not to mention a colorful crowd of locals I have come to expect. I rather like being around them as I read, it is soothing and I think better.
Anyhow, I think my achilles are fairly strong, though a bit overused, and that this problem is coming from excessive “ankling” in my stroke. I hope that this can be corrected with some insoles. We shall see. It could be the 20-odd days of riding around with 25 kilos… possible. Wish me luck.