19 July 2012

Camino De Santiago Day 8: San Anton - Sahagún

It took us a while to get going (as per usual) as we engaged in coversation with our hospitalero in San Anton. Plus, it was the first day that Miguel would be with us from the morning so we had to get our routine down again. Alberto was having allergies; there must have been some new types of plants now that we were in Castilla y Leon. Jose Manuel told us about the different types of people who come into the ruins of San Anton each day. The French always travel in big groups and families, the Germans are the most polite, etc.

We finally got going about 9am and headed to Castrojeriz, only 3.5km away. It was still chilly in the morning, so we pushed on a bit to warm up. Jose Manuel had warned us about a hill after Castrojeriz, and we had by now picked up on the fact that the Spanish always seem to underestimate the severity of their hills, so when he said it was a tough one, we were very worried.

Approaching Castrojeriz

As we approached the hill we got caught behind a shepherd and his flock of sheep along with some walkers. When a small crowd of us had formed behind them the shepherd got his dogs to drive the sheep up onto the bank next to the road to let us pass. When we got to the other side of the sheep Miguel and I looked back and saw that Alberto had somehow not made it past. I told Miguel we could keep going, the hill was just ahead and Alberto would catch up with us on the hill. Sure enough, he did - but when we were almost at the top. I was pleased to make it all the way to the top without stopping or walking, and thought those days in the Pyrenees must be paying off. When it was time to go down the other side it was a different story. The gradient was 18% and I was feeling very timid, so I got off and walked down the hill. I felt a bit silly but the day before had been the first day of the Camino that I hadn't fallen and I was hoping to make it two days in a row.

Behind the flock. You can see the camino snaking up the hill in the background.

View from the top - and confirmation of the steep gradient!
Alberto's allergies were still pretty bad and Miguel had a lot of saddle soreness, though I was feeling pretty good. We stopped just before Carrión de los Condes for lunch, having a bocata (sandwhich) and some homemade cakes from a bar. We were in the meseta region of the Camino, which walkers always talk about as some of the hardest days, and I can see why. Miles and miles of flat, straight roads with no trees and no changing landscape. This would take us about two days, but it would talk a walker almost two weeks. The Camino here went alongside a very quiet road, so we took the road for much of the time - easier on Miguel's but and less effort to push the pedals for all of us.

Camino and road. Me and miguel.
Later in the afternoon we passed by a man and woman cyclist who were walking their bikes. Miguel and I passed them first, and checked that everything was okay. They said yeah, they were just resting their butts! Alberto was a few minutes behind us and stopped to chat with them. He noticed they were using those gel-pad saddle covers and advised them to take them off. When we saw them later at the albergue in Sahagún they said it had helped a bit.

We carried on to Terradillos de los Templarios where we stopped to have an ice cream and for Miguel to rest his butt. It was also our last chance to call ahead to the albergues in Sahagún and check how they were filling up, as Terradillos was the last major stopping point behore Sahagún. The municipal albergue said they weren't too full so we decided to head there for the night.

Pilgrim with Donkey somewhere befoe Sahagún

In Sahagún we found the municipal albergue without too much trouble. It was housed in a massive church, with one big room which was divided by bunk beds into little cubicles. It only cost 4 euros and had clean toilets and a kitchen, so we couldn't complain much. We actually went out to eat though, enjoying a pilgrim's menu on the central square of the town, watching kids run around and plenty of locals hanging out as well. The menu was only 8 euros for three courses, but Miguel and Alberto wanted to try a starter of the local specialty of leeks filled with a seafood paste. They said it was very tasty, until we were brought the bill and we found out it was 10 euros! Oh well! We also took care of some errands in town, finding a candy shop open we went in to re-stock our supplies of gummy sweets which were a good snack on the bike, and bought some pastries for breakfast the following morning.

Back at the hostel we looked at our options for the following day and decided that if possible we would push on to Astorga, as it was supposed to be a really nice city. It was 110km away though, so we weren't sure Miguel (and more imporantly his butt!) was up to it. We spoke to a middle-aged couple who were getting ready to give up their Camino. The guy had twisted his ankle and couldn't even walk on it. Even after two weeks where he had taken busses to meet up with his wife who would walk each day, the ankle just wasn't getting better. It made us realise how good we have it on the bikes, not having to carry all that weight on our backs and having the option to freewheel down the hills.

Stats for the day:
Odometer 88km
Moving average: 14.3kph
Overall average: 9.9kph
Moving time: 6h9m
Total time: ??
Max speed: 42kph

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