Tuesday 26 May 2015

Bad Day at the Office

Santander, Spain

I have always thought anyone who rode a bike on a motorway was completely stupid. Well, guess what? 

We managed it the other day, for about five kilometres or 15 minutes, until we were shooed off by two men in a motorway patrol vehicle.

It was the same day we ended up buying chicken stock instead of soup (sopa) at the supermarket and having it for dinner.

It was also the same day we were lashed by a cold rain as we rode, and stayed in an albergue which we thought was a hostel for pilgrims but turned out in this case to be housing students on some kind of retreat. We were the oddball entertainment.

We were the oddball entertainment in Gijon at the Albergue Palacio San Andrés de Cornellana. It had dormitory accommodation but was not really set up for walkers or cyclists because of its very limited kitchen/cooking facilities. 

The tandem developed a bumping sensation whenever I put on the rear brake and it looks as though the rear wheel may have buckled a bit, something I am not going to try to fix myself.

To cap it off, I melted my mug in the albergue microwave. Now it has a couple of nasty globules growing inside it which suggest a kind of dreadful disease. I only hope it's not catching.

But some days that's cycle touring - we have learned to take the good with the bad. I suppose the worst bad bit was the motorway. How we got onto it beats us. At one moment we were leaving Aviles in Asturias on a minor road, the next we were mixing it with the big boys - lorries sending up sheets of spray and cars sitting on the 120 kph speed limit. I did have a twinge of doubt when I saw that speed limit sign, but by then it was too late.

We hummed along happily enough but the ugly moment came as we approached an exit. Still not realising our mistake, we were going to go straight ahead, but I pulled over waiting for a gap in the traffic.

That's when Judy noticed the van slowing behind us.

We both signalled it to overtake. 

"Use your initiative you Wally, and go past us," Judy shouted at the van, loud enough for me to hear above the rumble of high speed traffic and the wind but not loud enough for them.

The van didn't move, and it blocked our view of approaching traffic.

"He's waving his arms at us. There's two of them. They're wearing high viz jackets. They might be police. I think they want us to take the exit," came the next update from the Stoker's seat.

It was then I noticed the flashing lights - the van was festooned with them like a Christmas tree.

"Now they are both waving both arms at us."

We cycled slowly uphill on the exit ramp, the van on our tail. At the top we cycled onto a roundabout and ended up in the car park of a Carrefour supermarket.

At least there was no instant fine.

Wash day near Villaviciosa

We have now been cycling for seven days in a row - from Santiago de Compostela to a campground east of Villaviciosa, where there is only one other couple staying. It's peaceful, sunny and quiet and we have called a rest day and are using it to catch up on washing etc. There is less than 150 km to go to Santander and our ferry to England but we figure it will be a three day ride. The road so far has been hilly and twisting, we have been geographically challenged in several towns and the weather has been mixed.

That said, we have had some delightful cycling on stretches of the N643 and now the N632.

Despite ending up on a motorway briefly we have enjoyed some good cycling. It's been hillier than we expected with grades of over 10% occasionally but in many places there has been little traffic.

Occasionally the road followed the coastline closely, but more often the Bay of Biscay was just a glimpse as we cycled along.

Judy the Stoker's Quotable Quotes
"You know, I have decided that a bottle of red wine a night relaxes our muscles better than the stretches we are not doing."

Lush, green countryside and not a grapevine in sight in this northwestern corner of Spain.

The Stoker: "I have difficulty telling which way GPS George wants us to go."

The Captain: "Well, he's set up so North is always at the top - just like a paper map. But he can be set to route up."

The Stoker: "Route up? Sounds fabulous. I didn't know it was an option. Let's do route up."

From the tent. Lighthouse at Llanes.

Tent up, showers next, then dinner with wine and an early night.

GPS George - Update

George remains primarily a tool for showing us exactly where we are on a map. However, we are trying to ask him for simple directions, in the hope that we can gradually learn more about his quirks without riding kilometres out of our way.

In Vilalba, we had him give us directions to our albergue and he did it successfully. However, the next morning he tried to lead us up some steps as we left town.

In Gijon, he took us in a big loop to our accommodation, when there must have been a much shorter direct route. The next morning as we left, he tried to lead us off in a big loop because he didn't want us to push the bike on a footpath against the flow of traffic in a one-way street. When we resolved that problem, the route he proposed was so complicated we asked another cyclist.

"Go straight down that road till you hit such and such," he said. "Then turn right." We did. Simple as.

Chill Wind

If Garmin is feeling a cool breeze around its ears, it may be the competition and not the cycling weather.

In the last couple of days, I have received an email about a bicycle computer that is paired with a cellphone and controlled by app. The gadget is waterproof, is claimed to have a long battery life and costs much less than a Garmin.

For more info: http://ridewithgps.com/help/rflkt

And a Dutch cyclist we met recently has been telling us about his Meo GPS unit. He bought it recently and while it has its own quirks, it is much cheaper than similar Garmin products.

For more info: http://eu.mio.com/en_gb/cyclo-505.htm

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike and Judy,
    Ross and I are loving your blog! Have to say that Judy's first 'Quotable Quote' of this post made me laugh out loud! :):) Sounds like one must be a little weary of GPS George. Stay off the motorways and good luck in finding a replacement mug Mike! Travel safe. Sarah xxx


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