We were on the road out of Carrion good and early. It was a cool morning and the long, straight, flat roads really got us moving. All that water from last night started to take effect. I really needed to pee, but all the bars en route were shut. When my bladder could hardly hold out and my kidneys started to ache I ran behind a tree. Best Pee Ever.
The next town along had an open hostel, jam packed with peregrinos. Many of the cyclists were ones we recognised from earlier stops.
More flat riding with the road stretching out in front, the vanishing point obscured by a heat haze. We discovered why we’ve been able to keep up with some of the serious bike boys. They’ve been following the Camino walking path, while we’ve stuck to the road. We got to Sahagun, an ugly town, but with a helpful bike shop where we picked up spares and some WD40 which more than halved the bike noise.
We rode out the far side of town whilst looking for the centre, after turning around we got caught up in a market. We decided against spending the night here, but wanted to get out of the sun for a while and eventually sought refuge in a bar. We ordered a couple of Cokes and were given fried pork on the side. A crazy Spanish guy insisted on talking to us, no matter how many escape attempts I made. He figured that as I said “no hablo Espanol” I clearly could speak Spanish and my protest of “no entiendo” was proof positive that I understood what he was talking about! Again he assumed we were German, because I’m tall, but even Lou is tall in this town. The nice barman at Meson Covadonga took pity on us after our interrogation and served me quickly each time I went to the bar, giving me more and more fried snacks. I’m certainly easy to spot here, I’m a good foot taller than most of the blokes.
After stopping off at the alburgue for a sellos, and having photos taken with a statue of Santiago we headed out of town only to find the road in the book and on the map was now a motorway we couldn’t go on. After a wrong turn into the village of the damned we decided to follow the route the four “bike boys” had taken. This was a fantastic piece of road – smooth, clean tarmac with no traffic, running alongside the Camino path. Recently planted trees will provide great shade in years to come, but none for us.
We stopped for ice lollies and juice a fair few kilometres in, only to see the bike boys tucking into lunch. Back into the meseta, no sunflowers this time, just a long hot straight, flat ride with a desperately hot dry wind in our faces. We stopped at a fuente for extra water. I pumped it on my head to cool off and squirted water all over myself – it felt great.
We happened on another small town and stopped for more juice. The guy next to me at the bar asked, in German, if I was German. He seemed a little disappointed that I wasn’t. He was and was wearing a Bayern Munich top, but he wasn’t from Munich. He was, however, frighteningly like Matthew, so I stopped for a chat. He’d done the Camino before, on a bike, from Germany in 40 days.
I sat outside and I called Elise to sing Happy Birthday, although I was a day early. A strange Spanish guy in all-in-one cycling shorts sat by us and started to chat,without really noticing that we didn’t understand him.
The four guys from earlier in the day arrived at the alburgue opposite. We went over for a sellos which we had to apply ourselves. ‘Matthew’ whittered to us some more in German. A chap we’d seen earlier at a fountain was in the alburgue, we’d overtaken him several times as he kept plodding whist we kept stopping. His tortoise matched our hare. On the way out of town ‘Matthew’ wished us well from his balcony.
Not long out of town and we met the weird all-in-one Spanish guy from the bar and we chatted some more without letting the fact that we were speaking different languages stop us. The road got less well paved and we sang merrily to keep our spirits up. It’s surprising how well sound travels up here, as some blokes in a truck drove past and sang back to us. Having plenty of water from our fuente stop we had a water fight by an unmarked railway crossing. It felt great to have water cooling as we cycled on.
A Dean Martin medley and we were in Religios where we stopped at the alburgue. It was just 3€ each – we had a lovely big room, at least 13’ x 24’. We just had to share it with 20 other people. I nabbed a top bunk. As I was rustling through my panniers for my sleeping bag I sliced my knuckle, but I didn’t notice until I’d bled on everything. Whatever plasters I put on it, the gross combination of blood and sweat just kept washing it off.
A rosada at the bar then back for a stroll around ‘town’. The shop was shut so the bar was our only choice for dinner. I asked for a menu and the woman laid a table for us. Not the table we were at, the one next to it. We had to move. There was no menu, our choice was salad followed by either steak or eggs. No exhausting decisioning required.