The Cork Board

Days 15/16 Logroño to Vitoria-Gasteiz to Bilbao

There are essentially two routes to Vitoria G from Logroño. The city is due north and after Laguardia, ringed by bodegas and vineyards, you can go around the Herrera peak, 55 miles, or over it, 45 miles.

I had decided to go over it! As I dug into a constant 14% gradient I seriously did consider rolling back down the hill and going around. It was proving to be tough. It was a “whole banana with Haribo top-ups” tough. I took my time and told my inner chimp to shut up. The banana had gone. When the hill really did ramp I gave myself a break and sometimes pushed. Then, when I got to view points like this, I knew that despite the pain this is the reason for it all.

Descending the other side of the 1100 metre peak was a dream of sweeping bends, silent villages, and lush greenery. Pain? What pain?

It was a dull afternoon riding into Vitoria-Gasteiz. Towns never look their best in dull weather. There was some sort of protest going on in the main square.My Spanish not up to the full ramifications of it all but it seemed peaceful enough. Perhaps with more time I could have given the city its due but I was late and tired by now. Gasteiz, by the way, is the name of the ancient village upon which the town is built.

The bottom of this picture shows the covering over a long escalator that takes people back up the hill.

I promised myself to set off early the following morning and was good to my word. Except that upon weaving my way out of VG I discovered that my road was now an Autovia and I was on board a banned mode of transport – a bike. Despite spitting and spluttering I found a cycle track that ran due north and would allow me to join the road later. Phew. But it did set me back an hour or more. The ride imperceptibly climbed until I was rewarded by more sweeping speeding downhills in stunning countryside only halted by the sudden arrival of a real bike race peloton, with Police, cars and motorcycle escort, coming the other way.

And so into Bilbao by the back door by a road that I was certain wasn’t about to turn into an autovia and a rendezvous with Mrs.Monkey. Now free as a bird, literally, (different story, different post sometime), she has decided on the spur of the moment to fly out and meet me for a weekend in this exciting city. Can’t wait.

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