Picos day 2

By way of explanation I should say that the week has been organised by Marmot Tours. It’s like a mini TDF thing except there are two people doing all the work rather than a team of 15 or so. Also the distances are not as challenging, but we are doing 6 consecutive mountain days so there is a lot of climbing, which is, of course, my “thing”. I only decided yesterday that I would add this to my existing blog, hence a slightly different style – less stats and research beforehand – but still aiming to share some good photos and to find a humerus take where I can. And I am well aware that humour, like beauty, can be in the eye of the beholder!

Today started with a beautiful, gently downhill ride through a gorge to the town of Panes (gorge and gorgeous same root word?).

The weather was not a patch on yesterday’s – somewhat damp in the air but pleasant enough. Had the sun been out then I’m sure I would have taken more photos. The above is one of Graham’s as it was better than my effort – thanks Graham!

The plan today was to get something to eat at a cafe in Las Arenas rather than just before the day’s main climb which was the Lagos de Covadonga – another 20km special with a steep middle section. It’s a climb that features in the Vuelta a Espagna, so it’s a good one to tick off the list. We should be in good time for lunch at the top before coming back down to the hotel.

After leaving Arenas, we passed through some small villages, including this one.

Graham and I aren’t sure how many people on Marmot tours stop for a photo here or whether it is just us!

Anyhow, enough of that nonsense as we were soon into the serious business of the day. The road was getting steeper, but earlier in the day the general dampness had upset my Garmin which thought I was 150 metres below sea level. As it dried out, the Garmin rapidly started to correct itself to the point where I was gaining height rapidly on gradients of up to 150%! I should correct the stats on Strava I suppose, but since it also gave me a top speed of over 100mph I might leave it!

We did not get the benefit of the view because we were soon riding in heavy cloud and poor visibility. Thankfully the sides of the road (which had little in the way of protective barriers) were painted with strong white lines. As the visibility worsened, I was confused by what I thought were dotted white lines. Turns out it was a small flock of sheep being brought down the hill by a shepherdess!

Eventually I could see no more than 5 or 10 metres in front of me. The last 1km was on poor roads and once I the top I decided to forego lunch and head back down to grab something at the hotel instead. Going down took a long time – just too dangerous for me to come down with any kind of speed until I could see where I was going, which took a good 10km or so.

Eventually though, it did clear and I got a good shot of the church that was built to commemorate the site where the Catholic Church started to push back against the Moors. It’s an impressive site, though the area outside is typically touristy. It’s the Basilica de Santa Maria la Real de Covadonga.

The picture is my Pick of the Picos day 2 – yesterday’s Pick was the one I took of the stag. Sounds like a new feature and I shall have to choose one for each day!

On getting back to the hotel there was an optional extra to climb up to Riensena. Perhaps I would have seen some more beautiful mountain scenery had I done so, but given what is still in store I decided to give it a miss and rest up instead.

Oh, and the slow descent meant I never got any lunch. Never mind, dinner at 8:30pm which I shall probably demolish.

Stats today – 116km riding with something like 1,500 metres ascent. I’d ask my Garmin, but it’s still confused.

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