Picos day 5

Today was all about the Angliru. There was the small matter of a warm up climb to reach the top of El Cordial first to make sure the legs were still working after the day before. They were, and now nothing was in the way of the Angliru which was the next climb on the agenda.

At the bottom of the climb you can see the mountain towering over the village and can just about make out the contour of the road snaking up to the top, though the photo does not do it justice.

The climb starts off as a “normal” climb if there is such a thing – in other words nothing more than 9% for a few km and then a flattish section before reaching the Mirador – my new favourite word, meaning viewpoint.

After that things got serious. Just 7km or so to the top, but the average gradient was now about 13-15% and there were two short ramps of about 20% in a couple of the early bends. So far, so good. Then for a while we continued with the 13-15% average gradient with no silly stuff and it felt fine. Finally with about 3km to go it really did get silly. First there was another bend with a 20% ramp which I was able to take, but I had no recovery time as the road then went straight into a 23.5% section. Had I taken a breather on the previous bend (from where it would have been possible for me to restart) then I might have been ok. But I didn’t, so I had to unclip and stop before falling off. From there I had to walk 500 metres to a point where I could restart. Shame really, but there we go. Puts into perspective what the pros do when they race up this mountain!

We got right to the finish point and wondered what the point of the road was as it was a dead end and there was no habitation anywhere or even radio masts like on the Big G yesterday. For people like us to hurt ourselves I suppose!

The descent was tricky – I am not a great descender at the best of times and going down steep twisty roads is a challenge.

The first shot below is looking back up at the 23.5% section while on the descent. The second shows that we had a fair amount of snow for company too!

Having safely got to the bottom, we then had a coffee before setting off on a 50km section to lunch. Graham was already long gone, but Joe, Hugh, Doug, Clive, Martin and I worked together to deal with that transfer back towards the climbs that would ultimately take us back into the Picos and up onto the plateau. Our home for the night would be back in Riaño, home of the best gin and tonic. A few more this time (though not all for me!).

That’s it for now. Should be a shorter day tomorrow, our final day before having to pack the bikes away for an early transfer to the airport on Sunday morning.

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