Day 6 - Downhill Day! 3rd Sept, 140km

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Overslept and left camp at 9.30 - great long downhill (in overcast & drizzly grey clouds) but got some great shots of the wet road and the misty mountains. Long downhill, all the way to the coast on a fairly quiet road. It was just so good to get away from the dueling a-roads and motorway of the coast.

Spanish roads (anything N* anyways) are great - there´s so much space here that there is noramlly an extra lane going uphills, and a 2m hardshoulder going downhill (means it´s safer going downhill). Drivers are nice too...lots of beaping to let you know they´re coming up on you on the downhills.

San Vincente Monestary was very nice, perched on a hill with a couple of nice bridges on the way in and out, then on to Cornillias, for some gordy Gaudi buildings. My bike slipped on wet cobbles (without me on it) and I think this may have been the start of my troubles.

Going out of town (turns out in the wrong direction) I broke a spoke going up hill. I was always afraid of this because it´s really a road bike and it´s got 30kg on the back of it. Luckly the next town had a very nice bike shop that had just opened again after lunch and they whisked the offending wheel away to be fixed.

Then it was a long drag along my old friend N-634 via Solaris to Laredo. Lots of rain, nothing better to do, but put some miles in - I did some good distance, but a spoke snapped again (I suspect it was the same one). So I got into the campsite at dusk (Three campsites in town all very well signposted, I ended up at the Laredo Camping. Nice big, a bit Butlins but cool enough.

Day 7 (google says 98km, but is lying because it doesn´t know about the magic ferry-bridge-thing)

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Tired after exersions yesterday and not looking forward to more messing about on the coast. Woke up to find that a slight swelling on the tyre had burst, so it took till midday to get the bike sorted (only 23 euros for new rear inner, outer and spoke - I wonder what kind of tyre I got) . Then more chasing the motorway on the (very nice, but twisty) N-364. Ups and down all the way to Castro-Urdiales for lunch.

(someone else´s photo, don´t have teh heart to tell the owner of this cafe that a CF reader with 3 bent pins ain´t doing anything except crashing Windows. I couldn´t remember what it looked like without looking it up either)

Nice looking historic place, but nothing to write home about, except i´m writing home about it. I fell on some wet cobbles (note to self - wet cobbles with a heavy pannier´d bike == bad). Then it was urban mess of a costal road (with lots of lorrys beacuse of the port) to Santurizi, where there was a nice ferry-crane thingy to incredibly inefficenly move people to the other side of the river for €0,50.

Derailuer now giving me grief on the uphill into university land. Lots of funny noises that tweaking doesn´t seem to fix. The uphil into univesity/gated community land was nice will high rolling hills, a few other cyclists out after work and lots of speed limits on definied cycle routes. Mountains all around with sea beyond, really good stuff.

Got to Gertika-Lumo and it was dark. Was considering the run in the dark up the coast to either Mundaka or Lekeito, even brought some groceries for cooking from Aldi´s (same in every country - rushed staff etc, almost throwing me out of the door at closing time). Then I realised that I had a real job for 19 months and booked into a Pensione. Mr. Bike slept on the balcony and I got a good proper hot shower and my phone recharged. It did feel like cheating, but I got to charge my phone, eat (another bad) chinese, and get a good start the next day.

Day 8 5th Sat September. 60km. I really hoped to make France today - I thought I hotel would set me up for a run into a Pyranese pass. On the way up the hill to

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I even found a nice (but casio) watch in the bushes on the way up the hill...but then the gremlins struck again. I was still struggling with derailuer problems when I got a flat back tyre at the top a hill. It was no problem to swap out for my spare (I´ve been carrying it for months, hoping it was the right size), I also had a go at the deraileur. Turns the fixing between it and the frame had come loose. If I knew this it would have been easy, but I took the thing off first and lost the nut...so tis now attached using a not stolen from one of my drink bottle holders. GAH... 90 minutes looking for that nut and tuning the gears again. But the hack worked and was on the road again.

Half way down the hill I got another flat in the front (there´s no strain on that one at all, so was very confued. Was slow enought for me to make it into town). Pushing the bike into town there where a lot people wearing blue. But the time I made it to the harbour there where thousands of people wearing sailing smocks. Lots of music, huge numbers of row boats in the harbor. Was like cornwall, but somewhere warm!

That puncture was giving me real grief, the old cement I had just wasn´t holding the rubber, no matter how well prepaired it all was. After lunch a lovely Basque family swooped down on me, fixed with the dregs of the glue in 3 mins and ran of again. Was a real Basque affair - lots of anti-Espanol logos and that flag everywhere. When I tried my "no espaniol" line I got told by several very nice men that this was Basque and not Espaniol in any way shape or form....

At 4 the festivities began, there was a game. It went like this-
In the middle of the harbour was a goose. It was hung between the wall and another boat. On the other end of the rope was a group of 20 guys. Then teams would fill rowing boats with 15-20 drunk people, head out into the harbour, race past affore mentioned goose. One man on the back of the boat would try to pull the head of the goose. At the same time the 20 guys on the shore would catapult him up and down until he fell off.

There was also a greasy pole with a flag on the end of it, but I had to do some miles, and so will never know what these people will use that for. Was a really great local party, I was one of the few toursts.

Been on the road a while now and really enjoying it - feeling like I´m not making much headway, but I think that´s fair. Hopefully France will be flat and faster (already seeing lots mroe bikers)=

Just pitched my tent (The vango helium 200 has been a really good bit of kit, dried in no time today after being in it´s bag for 2 days). Easy to set up when you get the hang of it too. Time to go cook some tuna and rice!

wide tent!