Camino Day 5: Cycling Santo Domingo to Burgos

By | June 22, 2006

A good early start, obvious really when you’ve spent the night in a convent. It was almost cold out with a low mist, great weather for cycling. We got a fair few kilometres out of town before a woman in an information office called us in to give us a stamp. Loads of people were gathered and walkers and cyclists kept appearing. Cheery “holas” were offered all around. The woman gave us an altitude map of the Camino – yikes – the Pyrenees were a breeze compared to what we have ahead of us!

Further on up the road we stopped for breakfast. Lou had a steak sandwich and I tried to order a cheese omelette without much luck. I ended up with a plate of fried eggs and bread with the chef trying to speak French with me which wasn’t helping anyone. By the time we finished our breakfast the walkers from the tourist office had caught us up.

We got back on the road and after a pleasant downhill stretch and a cup of coffee in a bar that boasted all sorts of pigs ear related breakfasts we set up another climb. Cars ‘tooted’ more frequently which I put down to the shell, but soon learned otherwise. We had a climb ahead, the seriousness of which I only realised when we reached the alburgue at Villafranca – a veritable refugee camp of army tents called ‘base camp’ – clearly not a good sign!

It was a long steep climb packed with hairpins up to 1150m. We were passed by some serious cyclists who offered “vamos…OK” type encouragement whilst laughing far harder than I could breathe. We made the most of odd bits of shade, but this time we knew we’d make it having made the road to Roncevalles. It was hot, but not as hot as it had been, or would be later in the day.

We made it up to peak number one and I stopped to fix my pedal with one of Toby’s cable ties. We knew another peak was ahead because we’d seen it on the altitude map the woman at the tourist office gave us, a scary thought. We must have miscalculated a bit though because we were soon on our way down hill. We stopped at a strange bar, miles from anywhere, for some pop to cool down, then more downhill for miles. Woohoo.

As we entered Burgos we met up with the three ‘cycle boys’ who had overtaken us in the morning on the hill. We rode on together, feeling very proud of ourselves for catching up but whilst we were done for the day, they were only planning to stop off for lunch. It was nice to ride with them as traffic was picking up and it felt safer in a little crowd. As we got into the busy intersection to get into town and we were in the middle lane my chain came off – mucho rude words!

Into town and into the first hotel we saw as the temperature was 35°C and we were both tired. We had to take all the plants off the balcony in order to hang all our laundry up. Whilst I was in the lobby a fellow guest noticed I had no shoes, pointed and laughed. I felt embarrassed until she showed me the state of her feet which were in sandals, but a total mess. We wished each other “Buen Camino” and laughed as the reception staff looked on with disapproval, which made us both laugh harder. She pointed at her feet, said “manana” in a resigned voice and muttered something about “bano”.

Out to the cathedral for a sellos and a trip around. After a ticket snafu we went in. It was amazing! There were loads of relics, and statues, including San Sebastian with arrows sticking out of him, which amused Lou as her class had done a dramatised assembly about his life, or more specifically, his death. The tomb of El Cid dominated the floor of the nave. The cathedral was outstandingly beautiful, with some truly ugly art inside.

We stopped afterwards at a bar for a beer. I opted for one teeny tiny tapas, then Lou had one. Pretty soon we’d had three each – extremely scrummy. It’s a lot more Spanish here. They even speak Spanish! After making Lou walk all over town we finally found somewhere I wanted to eat. I was being a real pain but wanted ‘real food’ rather than fried stuff or sandwiches. The restaurant we ended up in was great. They gave me a bowl of tomatoes, even though they weren’t on the menu and I had hake Rioja, which was wonderfully spicy and smoky, with excellent, but embarrassingly cheap wine. Lou had salmon and all in all it was a delicious, value meal.

Must get up early tomorrow, we have a 90km ride ahead of us.

Argghhhhhh. It seemed like a cool idea to get a hotel off the main square, but it wasn’t. There were people outside partying until 4am and then people started breaking bottles and singing ‘Glory, glory Man United’, which would have outraged me more but it was sung in German accents. Finally at 5am we got silence.

Forward to Burgos – Carrion de los Condes
Back to Logrono – Santo Domingo

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