I had decided when planning the trip that Salamanca was going to be the stop where I reviewed everything for the final week. Baggage, planning, riding experiences etc.
It had become clear as my ride brought me further north that I hadn’t planned, for instance, for the temperature drop in the mornings and that I was under-dressed for the chilly morning starts. What was needed were more base layers. Likewise, washing every evening was fine in the south where the air temperature was high all day and you could rely upon your smalls being dry by the morning. Further north, everything begins to get a bit chillier. In fact, it is more like England on a summer’s day than Spain basking in glory.
Another factor to account for was the headwind. I had in mind that there might be one but I hadn’t factored in it’s dilatory effect on speeds and mileage. I had been training in winds in England during the spring and was used to it but the impact feels somewhat greater when you are dragging your belongings with you.
Therefore with all this in mind baggage was rationalised and anything unlikely to be needed or not used so far, was dumped to create room for the final essentials.
Thus it was that I bought two more base layers in Salamanca, two more t-shirts to ease the pressure on washing, and rationalised my mileage for the next two days.
I had given myself the task of covering the next 110 miles or so in two chunks, 80 today then 30 or 40 tomorrow. I considered that if the headwind was as strong as it was reaching Salamanca then an 80 mile ride is likely to leave me drained and dishevelled. So my plans changed to break up the ride into 53 today and the balance tomorrow. So, I am in Tordesillas and not Valladolid, as originally planned.
And it was a lovely ride today. No wind, after all. Warm sun, and rolling agricultural landscape.
Salamanca really is a jewel, and if you’ve been there you know that, if you haven’t, put it on your list.
The traffic out of S this morning is a bit fast and furious. I suspect this is because the roads are generally dead straight.
The sun shone and the fields rolled by. I shed my extra layers by 11.00 and pushed on. One of the things I have learned in reviewing the last stages is that even though I think I can do the miles it really isn’t worth pushing on so much that I miss the experience. I remind myself to take the time to stop and smell the roses, as they say.
In that context, I have grown to appreciate the roadside. This may sound very strange, but frequently I will find myself riding by wild blue cornflowers mingled with a riot of poppies against a backdrop of golden wheat. It is, I tell you, beautiful.
The roads are often so quiet that birdsong is the only accompaniment to the solitary cyclist. I came across two snakes and a large lizard trusting to the barren road. The larger snake unfortunately had recently had his trust misplaced and the smaller one almost went the same way, camouflaged as he was against the road surface to the approaching cyclist. The lizard, too quick for anyone.
Aleajos was today’s planned lunch stop and I crawl into town, like Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti western, examined as I saunter by, by gentry taking an early sit down. Stranger in town. (Whistles.) And it is market day.😊
I wheel my bike between the stalls and head for the Pan Van. A market trader spots me and wanders over. It is about 25 degrees and he is wearing a heavy coat. He asks if I am English ( how could he tell ?) and says that he understands a little English. He enquires about my Spanish and I comfirm “a little” . He tells me that he likes to tour on his motorbike so I tell him that I am riding from Malaga to Santander. He complements me and says that I must be strong. I don’t know about that.
Then he asks me how do I prepare my bike, trying with this thumb to create some impression in the rock hard surface of my rear tyre. He repeats the question and trys to create a dent again. Meanwhile, I can’t seem to pull the words from the drawer. Maybe they’re not there anyway. I hadn’t thought that the Spanish for “to blow up” was a verb I would need. At least not unless it was in conjunction with ” I need to speak to the British Embassy”.
He wished me a “bien viaje” and I thanked him.
I bought an empanada from the Pan Man and what a fine empanada it was, indeed. It covered lunch and the other half will do the same tomorrow.
Whilst Banos de Monte Mayor may have been a bit of a mystery, Siete Iglesias is pretty obvious. But as I approached the next village I could only see one from the road and I couldn’t be bothered to find the other 6.
Tordesillas came up quicker than I expected. It had been a good ride and I had completed 53 miles in 4 and a half hours.
Tordesillas is famous for it’s annual Toro de la Vega festival where a bull is slaughtered by people on horseback and on foot. Depictions decorate the bull statue which stands at the entrance to the town. Not being that type of person, I can’t understand the blood lust that surely drives such events. It may be a tradition but is it still necessary ? And I know I stand accused of imposing my own values on my host country but there are people on Spain who disagree with it too. This is Spain, in all its complexities and traditions.