Days 13 to 16: Santillana del Mar to Pamplona

08 June 2016

A quick update from me today as I didn’t quite find time to write this yesterday on my rest day, but am hammering it out over breakfast as a 130 km ride looms.

The three days from Santillana del Mar through to Pamplona were quite gruelling. I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation and my little detour was about 50% further and 5 times more climbing than the direct route from León to Pamplona. I still contest it was worth it, both for the national park in the previous stint, and for the beautiful scenery through the Basque Country over the last three days. Go decide for yourself.

The undulating coastal roads from Santillana del Mar to Portugalete weren’t the most pleasant of things, nor was the what must have been a 15% track up to the hotel in Ollaberry. I must remember to check the contours around a hotel I quite randomly choose. Turns out I’d found one on top of a hill in a village next to the town I was targeting. Unfortunately has prices but not inclines for me to take into account when booking. I planned these days to be quite long, and that they were. That was the price to pay for the detour!

After a mild panic attack when it turned out my hotel in Pamplona wasn’t actually staffed but just a bunch of rooms, Visa and I managed to find a solution to delivering my new credit card and you’ll be pleased to hear I was united with my new card yesterday. I tried to celebrate by paying for my carb-loaded dinner with it, only to have the transaction declined.

At some point I need to write a quick post on equipment I’ve brought with me, especially the tech side of it. I’m reminded because I was sat in a cafe yesterday route planning when someone came up to me expressing interest (confusion, more likely) in the somewhat quirky setup I have of Bluetooth keyboard and mouse attached to my phone. It’s working remarkably well now that I got some early teething problems sorted out, and I know a few things I’ll change for next time (!?) such as getting a folding keyboard I can actually fit in a small bag. Anyway, that’s all for another day. I should take advantage of the relative chill and get on the bike. It was 32 degrees yesterday and likely to hit the same today.

I’m now heading towards the Pyrenees, and tomorrow I’ll say goodbye to Spain and find myself in France. It’ll be sad to say goodbye to such a beautiful country but I am looking forward to being somewhere where I can speak more than about ten words of the language. I’m still debating how I can get in a climb of Tourmalet this week: it’s either a long ride on day 3 (which is supposed to be shorter), or using my rest day (when, as the name suggests, I’m supposed to be resting). We shall see.

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